Army vet behind Houston shooting becomes third mass shooter once stationed at Fort Bliss
The suspect in a shooting rampage in Houston was once stationed at Fort Bliss, KFOX14 has confirmed.
Army records show Fort Bliss Dionisio Garza was stationed at Fort Bliss from November 2011 to January 2014, when he was discharged from the Army.
According to his Facebook, he 'lives in' El Paso. However, his Facebook does not appear to have been updated in a while and a records search did not find any El Paso addresses for Garza.
Fort Bliss was his last stop, before being discharged.
He was part of the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment and he reached the rank of sergeant in December 2011.
During Garza's four years in the Army, he served two tours in Afghanistan, the first from December 2009 to November 2010 and the second from December 2012 to August 2013.
Police said Garza killed one person and wounded several others Sunday at a Houston auto shop.
Garza, who was on foot in the west Houston neighborhood, fired dozens of shots from what police said was an AR-15 military-style rifle. A police SWAT officer killed Garza about an hour after the shooting began.
Police have not released a motive for the shooting, but Garza's family believes that he had post-traumatic stress disorder.
Garza's family told Houston television station KPRC that something snapped in him following the two tours in Afghanistan and that his condition worsened in the weeks before he traveled to Houston to visit an Army friend.
His family said Garza talked about the 'collapse of the economy' and wanted his family to move onto a compound in Texas.
KFOX14 asked Fort Bliss whether Garza had ever sought treatment for PTSD and why he was discharged.
KFOX14 received this statement from Fort Bliss:
"The individual was assigned to Fort Bliss from November 2011 - January 2014 and was discharged from the Army in January 2014. Privacy protections preclude the Army's public release of information concerning the details of his discharge." The statement came from Mike Brantley, a spokesperson for Fort Bliss.
Garza isn't the first former Fort Bliss soldier to go on a shooting rampage.
In 2012, Wade Michael Page killed six people and wounded four others at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Page had been stationed at Fort Bliss in 1994. He was "less than honorably discharged," and he was linked to white supremacist groups.
In 2014, Ivan Lopez claimed the lives of three people and injured 16 at Fort Hood, Texas.
He had recently transferred from Fort Bliss to Fort Hood.
Investigators said Lopez was receiving treatment for PTSD, anxiety and depression.
"The likelihood of one condition co-existing with another one is quite high," said Dr. Angel Marcelo Rodriguez-Chevres, a local psychiatrist who did not treat Garza.
Rodriguez-Chevres spoke to KFOX14 about mental illness and the military, in general.
He said PTSD can manifest in delusions, paranoia or aggression, which could lead to mass shootings.
But he says there are usually other issues.
"There might be some other vulnerabilities that we don't know about. Especially in the military, oftentimes people go in with some underlying vulnerabilities, risk factors, that they might not be aware of, the recruiter might not be aware of, and before you know it, you're exposed to a trauma and it's a trigger," said Rodriguez-Chevres.
Rodriguez-Chevres said it's hard to explain or draw conclusions from this disturbing pattern of heroes becoming mass shooters.
"That makes no sense to us. But, really, how do you dissect the mind and know what was going on at the time of the events?" said Rodriguez-Chevres.
Other local veterans said it's too easy and too early to use labels.
"As a combat veteran myself and someone who works closely with a lot of combat veterans who have suffered PTSD and traumatic brain injury, it's ignorant for anybody to rush to conclusions right away and blame this on PTSD. There's many other factors we could look into," said Jarred Taylor, president of Article 15 Clothing.
Rodriguez-Chevres said the military has become increasingly vigilant with regard to mental illness, often airing on the side of caution.
"I've done evaluations where I've scratched my head and said, 'Why is this guy here?' but it might be a comment he made or something that might not seem right. They're not taking any chances," said Rodriguez-Chevres.
We may never know what caused these soldiers to turn their weapons on fellow Americans, but it's clear they did not receive the type of help they needed.
"There's way too much focus on fixing guys after they're broken instead of focusing on giving guys the information on the resources before they hit a breaking point," said Taylor.
Rodriguez-Chevres said it comes down to education and awareness, teaching people how to recognize the signs and symptoms, but also having the resources available to treat and help service members.
Ultimately, Rodriguez-Chevres said, a person has to seek help and stay on their medication.