GUAYANILLA, Puerto Rico — He grew up in Puerto Rico, played percussion in his high school band, spent nearly a decade in the National Guard, served as a peacekeeper in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, worked as a police officer and then joined the U.S. Army.
That was Ivan Lopez's seemingly unremarkable route into the military. But what happened from there — and why the 34-year-old soldier turned against his comrades with such deadly fury — were a mystery Thursday.
A day after Lopez went on a shooting rampage at the Army's Fort Hood in Texas, killing three people and wounding 16 before committing suicide, some of those who knew him were baffled by the explosion of violence.
"He had a lot of friends. I never saw him fighting. He never seemed like a boy who had emotional problems," said Guayanilla Mayor Edgardo Arlequin Velez, who was also the leader of the school band that Lopez played in in this small, working-class town.
Lopez was sent to Iraq as a truck driver in 2011 during the final months of the war there. He came home complaining of a traumatic brain injury, according to military officials. But they said he did not see combat and was not wounded.
He sought help for depression and anxiety and was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder, military officials said. But Army Secretary John McHugh said Thursday that a psychiatrist last month found no violent or suicidal tendencies. The soldier was prescribed Ambien for a sleeping problem.
He had no apparent links to extremists, McHugh said.
Glidden Lopez Torres, who is not related to the gunman but identified himself as a family friend speaking on behalf of the soldier's family in Puerto Rico, said Lopez's mother died of a heart attack in November.
Lopez was close to her and was apparently upset that he was granted only a short leave — 24 hours, later extended to two days — to go to her funeral, which was delayed for nearly a week so he could make it, the family spokesman said.