Ivan Lopez was a man about to snap on March 1 when he posted on his Facebook page, “I have just lost my inner peace, full of hatred, I think this time the devil will take me. I was robbed last night and I am sure it was 2 ‘flacos’. Green light and finger ready. As easy as that.”
Indications at this time seem to be that an altercation with one or more fellow soldiers may have been the trigger that caused 34 year old Ivan Lopez, a Puerto Rican national, to snap, going on a shooting rampage that left three soldiers dead and another 16 wounded.
Lopez had been undergoing psychiatric examination in the month before the shooting, and was being assessed for the presence of post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He had also complained of suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury following his return from a four month tour of duty in Iraq. Conclusions to those issues will probably never been known with certainty.
Dr. Paul Schulz is professor of neurology at UTHealth and the Mischer Neuroscience Institute. He is currently studying civilian trauma patients at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center to see if they can identify risk factors for PTSD. That work is part of the Texas Trauma Institute. He worked at the Houston VA Hospital for 25 years.
Speaking of PTSD, Dr. Schulz tells KTRH News, “It’s a terrible disease. And I say that knowing that this is a terrible tragedy. If you’ve met or worked with someone with PTSD you would have a feel for how awful the disease is.”
Dr. Schulz says victims of the disease suffer from anxiety, depression, flashbacks and irritability, and those symptoms often impact their everyday lives, increasing the amount of stress. Difficulties at work can lead to financial stress, and loved ones complain their behaviors have made them unrecognizable.
“All those stressers were probably in the background and then someone said something innocuous or did something negative, and someone like this guy often are sent over the edge by one final event like that,” says Dr. Shulz.
7.7 million Americans suffer from PTSD, most of them women. According to the National Institute of Mental Health it can strike at any age.