Ivan López opened fire Wednesday at Fort Hood, killing three people and injuring 16 others, before turning the gun on himself and ending his life.
Edgardo Arlequin, the mayor of Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, and a personal friend of López, said the gunman was not the person he once knew.
“We raised a good kid, somewhere [down the line] something happened that changed the life of this man,” Arlequin told Fox News Latino. “What I know, from the seven, eight years that I taught him, is that from here he left a great human being.”
López grew up in Guayanilla, which has a population of 21,000. The fishing town, 88 miles south of San Juan, is "simply devastated” by the news, Arlequin said. López is the oldest of four children. He has two brothers and a sister.
Glidden López, a 26-year-old who is unrelated to the shooter, but is acting as a spokesman for his family, told Fox News Latino that the family is “shocked” and wants "to be left alone.” He added that the family has gathered in another town in Puerto Rico that he wouldn't name, and was planning on issuing a statement later today or tomorrow. He further described the López family as “very Catholic.”
López lost his mother, Carmen López, in November and his grandfather in October. Arlequin believes the deaths affected him deeply. He stated that, initially, López was not allowed by the Army to travel to Puerto Rico to attend his mother’s funeral. Eventually, he was allowed 24 hours to attend. He arrived in Puerto Rico five days after her death. An Army spokeswoman in Fort Hood would not comment on Lopez's bereavement leave.
“He came to Puerto Rico when his mother died and he had limited time. They didn’t give him the time he wanted,” Glidden López said. “That apparently affected him, upset him – the fact he could not spend more time with his mom in her last days for having been in the Army.”
A former classmate of López who attended elementary school and college with him told El Nuevo Dia, a newspaper in Puerto Rico, "I spoke with him two days ago, and he was happy, joking. But it seems that he had had an argument with someone back at base.”
López left Guayanilla to join the Army in 2008. Although U.S. military sources say he has three children, friends and family in Puerto Rico say he has four, two with an ex-wife who still lives in Puerto Rico.
López served four months in Iraq in 2011, and he reportedly had mental health issues. It was disclosed on Thursday that he saw no combat action, but he told authorities on his return that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq.
Mother’s Death Could Have Been Trigger
He was taking medication, receiving psychiatric help for depression and anxiety and was undergoing a process to determine whether he had post-traumatic stress disorder. Military officials said he was not in the process of leaving the Army.
The sudden death of his mother,who was a nurse at the Center for Diagnosis and Treatment in Guayanilla, could have triggered the deadly rampage, friends of López suggested. She died in November of a heart attack.
"This is very difficult [for the family members], especially for a family that I have always seen together. Having lost the mother, who was the anchor of the family, and now this, I think they must be devastated and we must support them," said Mayor Arlequin, who was director of the school band during the years López attended. The future serviceman played drums.
Arlequin added, "It is a close family, and they cared for him. He was given a good education and he decided to enlist in the Army."
Edgar Ruíz, the nursing director at the medical center, had been Carmen López’s supervisor ever since she started working there in 2007. He became close friends of the entire family.
"She was proud of her children, of their skills," Ruíz told Fox News Latino. "When Ivan joined the Army, she worried that something would happen to him. Whenever she heard something in the news she would say, ‘This could be my Ivan.’”
“If she were alive today, this would have been her death. She would not have resisted this tragedy,” Ruíz said. "This is astonishing. Here in Guayanilla everybody is in total shock. Nobody expects this from such a tight family.”
A former classmate, who asked to remain anonymous given his proximity to the soldier's family, told El Nuevo Dia that he was shocked that his friend would do this. "It really hurts," the man said.
He added that López had always been "quiet" and "normal," but could be impatient and temperamental. He sometimes got into fights – just boy things, the friend added. “He was not violent or anything."
Bryan Llenas currently serves as a New York-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC) and a reporter for Fox News Latino (FNL). Click here for more information on Bryan Llenas. Follow him on Twitter @BryanLlenas.