POSTED: Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 8:02am
UPDATED: Friday, April 4, 2014 - 7:52am
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — As the nation watched a deadly mass shooting unfold at Fort Hood on Wednesday, residents of one east El Paso apartment complex, hundreds of miles away from the chaos, shuddered at the sight of the shooter when they realized he used to be their neighbor.
"I can't believe that the guy who used to live right here, across the way from me, I never knew in all this time that these kinds of things were going through his mind," said Noah Georges.
Thirty-four year old Specialist Ivan Lopez wounded 16 soldiers and killed 3 others before turning the gun on himself.
Lopez, originally from Puerto Rico, joined the military in 2008 and was later stationed at Fort Bliss from April 2010 until November 2013.
"Within that time period, he did a four month deployment to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn in 2011," said LTC Lee Peters from Fort Bliss.
Lopez was transferred from Fort Bliss to Fort Hood in February 2014.
Officials admit Lopez had 'unstable psychiatric conditions' and was being evaluated for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) while at Fort Hood, even though he wasn't directly involved in combat while in Iraq.
"While you're there, you're always susceptible to enemy contact, enemy IEDs, enemy direct fire. You're always in harms way when you're deployed," said LTC Lee Peters.
Meanwhile, Virginia Grenke lives in Lopez's old apartment unit and still gets his mail.
"It's kind of freaking me out because my daughter and son-in-law live across the hall and I go, 'I just found out that he was in Iraq in 2011,' and I'm thinking if this is in relation to that, it could have happened here," said Grenke.
Three of the 16 soldiers injured in the shooting remain in critical condition.
Four people were killed, including the gunman.
Fort Hood is planning a memorial service for the fallen soldiers early next week.