St. Peters friend of Fort Hood shooter weighs in on tragedy

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ST. PETERS, MO (KTVI) - A St. Peters man is still stunned days after learning his friend and fellow soldier, Ivan Lopez, is being blamed for a deadly shooting at Fort Hood.  On Friday, investigators said Lopez got into an argument with soldiers in his unit hours before the shooting.  Also, that his mental condition was not the direct precipitating factor in the attack.

During this attack, Lopez killed three soldiers and injured 16 others before taking his own life.

It’s hard for 28 year-old Luke Huelskamp to grasp that this is the same Lopez that was texting him less than 24 hours earlier.  Now, he’s struggling to come to grips, not only with the fact that his friend is gone, but what he did.

Huelskamp joined the Army in 2009.  He and Lopez became friends about two years later, at Fort Polk in Louisiana.  Huelskamp says, “That’s where we really got close. He slept one bunk over.”

While at Fort Polk, and then for four months in Iraq, the two bonded over heavy metal rock music and their sense of humor.  That was back in 2011, but their friendship continued.

“I got out January 5th, 2013, but we still talked once a week, at least,” explains Huelskamp.

Huelskamp says they texted each other on Tuesday, the last conversation they would ever have: “I told him about my promotion, and we made a couple Army jokes and that’s the last I heard of him.”

Until the next day, when a friend stationed at Fort Hood called Huelskamp to tell him what Lopez had just done.

“I didn’t believe him at first until I looked it up,” recalls Huelskamp, “My heart sank.  It’s like man, that’s Lopez up there. You never think anybody could do this.”

It’s tough to grasp, since the man some call a monster was Huelskamp’s friend.  He says, “It may never sink in. I called back after the incident, and his phone had already been disconnected.”

The shocking news has caused him to reflect on previous conversations, searching for warning signs.  He says Lopez seemed angrier within the past few months, after his mother and grandfather died, and he wasn’t granted leave immediately.

“He was angry, he was very angry about not getting leave.  I guess you never think, until it’s someone you know, that you should have taken it serious.”

Huelskamp tells FOX 2 that his friend didn’t used to be angry like this.  Back when they trained at Fort Polk, Lopez was reserved and laid back, even when he got in trouble.

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