Fort Hood Tragedy

As we all follow this tragedy – and my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, families, and those suffering in the wake of the shooting – we are reminded of the earlier 2009 incident.

I called News 12 Long Island to correct an error they made that was being recycled every 20 or so minutes, namely that Nidal Hasan, the shooter in 2009 was a psychologist: he was a psychiatrist.

See the 2-minute 34-second News 12 Long Island clip:

At the 1:47 mark is the mention about “Army psychologist Nidal Hasan…”

This mistake was corrected at 1:01pm in the News 12 Long Island TV broadcast.

Available information indicates that there are 4 dead (including the gunman) and 16 wounded. The shooter, identified as 34-year old Army Spc. Ivan A. Lopez, was being treated for mental illness, and was undergoing an evaluation for PTSD and “depression, anxiety and a variety of other psychological and psychiatric issues.”

There was mention that Lopez also had sustained a brain injury in Iraq three years ago.

I’d like to raise several points:

  • It will be difficult to arrive at a clear picture of what led to this, after speculation and media hype settles down a bit and more accurate information becomes available, because Lopez is dead and we are looking at psych autopsies.
  • The specter of mental illness and violence will be raised, again and again, and stereotypes and inaccuracies will be promulgated, and statistics may be mischaracterized.
  • It was mentioned that Lopez was examined by a psychiatrist last month and “was found to show no violence or suicidal tendencies” (same clip, 2:34). This goes to risk assessment, and raises questions about our ability (mental health professionals) to assess risk of violence to others. A related matter involves risk management.
  • The plight of veterans who require mental health (and other) services will captivate greater attention. Reportedly, 1 in 5 returning servicemen from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD, and many develop depression, drug and alcohol problems, and have serious problems readjusting. Already I’ve heard greater allocation of funding in Long Island to support returning veterans.  Suffolk has the largest populations of veterans in N.Y.

Some links:



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