President Obama stood in front of an arrangement of boots, helmets, and pictures, paying his last respects to three soldiers shot and killed by military specialist Ivan Lopez. Military leaders and colleagues joined Obama to honor the dead. The gunman fatally shot “Sgt. 1st Class Daniel M. Ferguson, 39, of Mulberry, Fla.; Staff Sgt. Carlos A. Lazaney -Rodriguez, 38, of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; and Sgt. Timothy W. Owens, 37, of Effingham, Ill.” and injured 16 others at Fort Hood before taking his own life on April 2, The Wall Street Journal reports.
“Their passing shakes our soul,” President Obama said at the memorial. “This tragedy tears a wound still raw from five years ago. Once more, soldiers who survived foreign war zones were struck down here at home, where they’re supposed to be safe. We still do not yet know exactly why. But we do know this: We must honor their lives not in word or talk, but in deed and in truth,” he added, referring to a shooting, also at Fort Hood, that claimed 13 lives just five years ago. Three thousand attended the ceremony on Sadowski Field.
Although Lopez’s exact motivations are unclear, sources suggest the rampage began with an argument concerning his request for leave. Lopez was in the process of being screened for post-traumatic stress disorder. The late military specialist was undergoing treatment for anxiety, depression, and troubling sleeping.
“I’m determined we will continue to step up our efforts to reach our troops and veterans who are hurting, to deliver to them the care that they need and to make sure we never stigmatize those that have the courage to seek help,” Obama stated.
Obama and his wife, Michelle, paid special tribute to sergeants Ferguson and Owens, revealing for the first time that both soldiers spent the final moments of their lives saving others. Ferguson barred a door to keep fellow soldiers out of harm’s way. Owens tried to reason with Lopez and calm him down.