The FBI identified has Jerry Serrato as the gunman who killed a psychologist at a Texas veterans’ hospital on Tuesday.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Serrato Previously Worked at the VA Clinic
Serrato, 48, had been employed at the El Paso, Texas, clinic as a desk clerk in 2013, though the incident that led to the alleged shooting may have taken place outside of the clinic itself.
Serrato allegedly killed VA psychologist Timothy Fjordbak, 63, on the fourth floor of the clinic before taking his own life.
2. The Two Had Words at a Grocery Store
FBI special agent Doug Lindquist said Fjordbak filed a complaint against Serrato after the two happened to run into each other at a grocery store.
According to Lindquist:
Mr. Serrato approached Dr. Fjordbak, who did not recognize him, and he made a verbal threat.
Lindquist said the threat that prompted Fjordbak to file a complaint against Serrato was “something to the effect” of, “I know what you did and I will take care of that.”
3. The VA Is ‘Deeply Saddened’
According to a statement issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the investigation is ongoing.
In April, a shooting spree at nearby Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, killed four people, including the gunman, injuring 16. In 2009, a separate incident also at Fort Hood resulted in the deaths of 13 people. All three incidents — the shooting at Fort Bliss and both at Fort Hood — were carried out by Army veterans.
Here’s the full statement from The Department of Veterans Affairs:
“The Department of Veterans Affairs is deeply saddened by the tragic situation that has occurred in El Paso, and we are actively working with our partners at Fort Bliss to investigate this matter. We will continue to cooperate fully with military and civilian authorities at Beaumont Army Medical Center. The safety and continued care of our Veterans and the staff will be our focus throughout this situation.”
4. Security at the Base is Being Scrutinized
A security assessment is underway at the clinic in the wake of the shooting, said As the VA hospital’s acting director, Peter Dancy, told The New York Times, security at the clinic is currently being assessed following the incident.
The clinic was filled with patients and staff when the when the shooting happened, four months after Fort Bliss Commanding Officer Maj. Gen. Stephen Twitty said new security measures would be implemented after a military assessment found that the base was not in compliance with directives handed down by the Department of Defense.
Sutton Smith, a worker at the VA clinic, told The Times that a “code white” was issued, indicating an active shooter and that he “hid with about a dozen people in a locked room with the lights off for some two hours.”
5. Violence on Military Bases May Be on the Rise
Serrato, who served in Iraq, received a medical discharge from the Army in 2009, according to reports. That same year, the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine released a study that said the number of major crimes on military bases have risen quite a bit since 2003.
According to the study, as was reported by Slate, rates of arrests for violent crimes like murder, rape, assault, and arson increased considerably between 2007 and 2008, driven in part by mass shootings such as the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood.
Both shooting incidents at Fort Hood and Tuesday’s murder at Fort Bliss were allegedly carried out by Army veterans. Two of those allegedly responsible, Army Specialist Ivan Lopez in 2009 and Serrato, had served in Iraq. Both committed suicide before being apprehended.
The National Center for PTSD also notes that, “Although PTSD is associated with an increased risk of violence, the majority of Veterans and non-Veterans with PTSD have never engaged in violence.”
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