Obama: Fort Hood Shooting ‘Tears a Wound Still Raw’

“It is love, tested by tragedy, that brings us together again,” the president said at a memorial for the victims in Texas on Wednesday.

A U.S. Army soldier at the memorial for victims of last week's shooting at Fort Hood.
National Journal
Marina Koren Brian Resnick
April 9, 2014, 11:35 a.m.

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For the second time in five years, the pres­id­ent of the United States spoke at a me­mori­al for shoot­ing vic­tims at Fort Hood in Texas.

“It is love, tested by tragedy, that brings us to­geth­er again,” Pres­id­ent Obama said Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, ac­know­ledging that he — and the en­tire na­tion — have been through this be­fore. “This tragedy tears a wound still raw from four years ago.”

In 2009, after a mil­it­ary psy­chi­at­rist who pro­claimed ji­had shot and killed 13 people at the same mil­it­ary post, Obama also spoke at a me­mori­al for the vic­tims. “These are try­ing times for our coun­try,” the pres­id­ent had said, ad­opt­ing the role of what the As­so­ci­ated Press‘s Josh Le­der­man calls “com­fort­er-in-chief.”

The pres­id­ent was in Texas on Wed­nes­day to eu­lo­gize three ser­geants killed in the shoot­ing last week: Daniel M. Fer­guson, 39, Timothy W. Owens, 37, and Car­los A. Lazaney-Rodrig­uez, 38. The ser­geants has nine over­seas de­ploy­ments between them. The pres­id­ent and first lady met with the vic­tims’ fam­il­ies be­fore the ser­vice.

“For you, for your fam­il­ies, no words are equal to your loss,” Obama said. “We are here on be­half of the Amer­ic­an people to hon­or your loved ones and of­fer whatever com­fort we can.”

Last Wed­nes­day, a 32-year-old Army truck driver, Ivan Lopez, opened fire at the mil­it­ary post be­fore tak­ing his own life. Six­teen oth­ers were wounded in the shoot­ing, and four re­main hos­pit­al­ized in stable con­di­tion.

“Those who sur­vived for­eign war zones were struck down here at home where they are sup­posed to be safe,” Obama said, echo­ing his state­ments at Fort Hood five years ago. “We still do not know why.”

Since the 2009 shoot­ing, the pres­id­ent has de­livered sim­il­ar re­marks in Tuc­son, Au­rora, New­town, and Wash­ing­ton Navy Yard — all sites of mass shoot­ings. “We can’t tol­er­ate this any­more. These tra­gedies must end,” Obama said dur­ing his mem­or­able 2012 speech after a shoot­ing at a New­town, Conn., ele­ment­ary school claimed 26 lives.

But Wed­nes­day’s speech did not push heav­ily for le­gis­lat­ive ac­tion on gun con­trol, as some of his pre­vi­ous eu­lo­gies have. This time, Obama fo­cused on the need for in­creased ac­cess to men­tal-health ser­vices.

“As com­mand­er in chief, I have de­term­ined that 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 who have the cour­age to seek help,” he said.

In­vest­ig­at­ors say Lopez, who had served in Ir­aq and was be­ing eval­u­ated for sev­er­al men­tal health con­di­tions, had an ar­gu­ment with an­oth­er sol­dier be­fore the shoot­ing.

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