HIS body lies sprawled on the pavement at the Fort Hood military base in Texas, up against a curb, his disfigured face leaking blood and brains…no longer a vicious threat to anyone.

And that’s exactly what Spec. Ivan Lopez wanted.

After storming onto the Army base in Killeen at 4 p.m., Lopez blasted away with his .45-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol – leaving three dead and 16 wounded.

The 34-year-old soldier was said to be furious after being denied a leave from the base – but experts tell The ENQUIRER he had a secret motive for the massacre.

“This was NOT just a mass murder,” a highly respected criminal profiler told The ENQUIRER. “This was a murder/suicide by someone who didn’t think he would have the guts to shoot himself and wanted the cops to do it for him.

“‘Suicide by cop’ is very common. These killers know they won’t be alive at the end of the day, but they don’t care, because in their twisted minds they see themselves as heroes.”

r was confronted by a heroic military policewoman, who is not being iden­tified by the Army because she is part of the investigation.

A wild shootout erupted. Although the MP got off the first shot, it missed. Still, the act of challenging Lopez was apparently enough to convince him to take the coward’s way out. The low ranking Army truck driver and mar­ried father knew he was doomed at that point and swiftly completed his “mission” – turning his gun on him­self and blowing his brains out.

Despite the Army’s cloak of secrecy, The ENQUIRER has learned about the hero who stopped Lopez in his bloody tracks. A source close to the shooting described the MP as a 5-foot-5 blonde in her 20s who holds the rank of specialist.

“She was really shook up,” the source told The ENQUIRER. “I saw her at the scene about an hour after the shooting, and she was still trem­bling. All she wanted was a cigarette!

“She seemed to be feeling survivor’s guilt – that if she had just been there quicker, she might have stopped him before he killed and injured all of those people.”

Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, commander at Fort Hood, praised her, saying: “It was clearly heroic what she did …She did exactly what we would expect from a U.S. MP.”

If she had not confronted Lopez, the tragedy could have mushroomed into a terrible replay of the blood-drenched day in 2009 when Major Nidal Malik Hasan launched a one-man terror at­tack against Fort Hood. He murdered 13 and wounded more than 30 and is now on federal death row.

The ENQUIRER learned that the two killers had something in com­mon – both purchased their weapons from the same gun store in Killeen.

But while Hasan was an Army psychiatrist, Lopez was under treat­ment for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He had served for five months as an infantryman in Iraq and had been at Fort Hood only since February.

While no one knows why Lopez snapped, University of Alabama professor Dr. Adam Lankford, author of “The Myth of Martyrdom” and an expert on mass murderers said: “Lopez was looking to die. He went on that base with the idea he wasn’t coming out alive.”