TODAY   |  April 04, 2014

Friend: Fort Hood gunman ‘was a very good person’

Hometown friends in Puerto Rico of gunman Ivan Lopez react to the deadly Fort Hood shooting, as details of Lopez’s personal life emerge. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk reports from Guayanilla, Puerto Rico.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> up in a small town in puerto rico . nbc's stephanie gosk is there this morning. stephanie , good morning to you.

>> reporter: hey, matt, good morning. this is a quiet town on the south coast of puerto rico . the reaction to the news out of ft. hood here was disbelief. it's a tight knit community. almost everyone we met knows lopez ' family. his mom was the head nurse at the local hospital and his father played the guitar every sunday in church. this is where ivan lopez grew up, a town of 21,000 where residents say as many as half of the high school graduates will enlist in the u.s. military . his friends describe him as humble and fun loving.

>> a very good person. laughing all the time.

>> this is a guy that you knew really well, you guys grew up the same exact way.

>> and never thought something like this could happen.

>> they were percussionists with lopez in the high school marching band . they say they are both in a state of shock .

>> you know, to know your best friend is involved in something like that.

>> the mayor was the band instructor. the former teacher worries the months in iraq may have taken a toll on his student. he must have been suffering, he says. lopez was back last november when his mother died suddenly of a heart attack. back only for 24 hours . his friends say he was frustrated he couldn't get more leave for the funeral. but didn't notice anything different about him.

>> he had this -- this gift, he knew how to hide emotions. so if anything ever happened, nobody knew. he was joking, trying to make the best of the situation.

>> reporter: the people here are very proud of their young men and women that go off to serve in the u.s. military . and there are a lot of them. right now, they're trying to reconcile the memory of a man they were very proud of with a man who could have been responsible for that deadly shooting spree. matt and savannah.

>> stephanie gosk, thanks very much.