The Fort Hood soldier behind Wednesday’s deadly shooting at Fort Hood had mental health issues and was being treated for depression and anxiety, however it was not the main factor that lead to killing three people and injuring 16 others before turning the gun on himself, military officials said Friday.
In a Thursday afternoon press conference, Commander Lt General Mark Milley said that they had “very strong indications” that there was “a verbal altercation with another soldier or soldiers” before Ivan Lopez opened fire on Wednesday.
He declined to discuss the cause of the argument but said investigators believe Lopez made no effort to target specific soldiers — even though at least one of the soldiers shot was involved in the dispute. Milley would not say whether those involved were among the dead or wounded, or how many shooting victims had been a part of the argument.
“We have very strong evidence looking into his medical history that indicated an unstable psychiatric condition,” Milley said. “We believe that to be a fundamental underlying cause.”
Lopez, who was on medication, served four months in Iraq in 2011 and had “self-diagnosed” a traumatic brain injury, and according to the Fort Hood record, an Army truck driver was not wounded in action.
The 34-year-old Iraq War veteran opened fire after he tried to pick up a leave form and was told to come back later. Lopez stormed off, got into his four-door sedan and drove off. But then he turned around, drove back and “opened fire from his car before he had to put it into park,” said one of the witnesses.
Survivors recalled staring into the face of the killer. Sgt. Jonathan Westbrook said the look in Lopez’s eyes was all the warning he needed.
Three people were killed in the shooting in addition to Lopez, who turned the gun on himself when approached by a female military police officer. There were 16 people who had to be treated for injuries sustained during the shooting and four have since been released from the hospital.
On Friday, authorities formally identified the dead as 39-year-old Daniel Ferguson, of Mulberry, Fla.; 38-year-old Carlos Lazaney-Rodriguez, of Puerto Rico; and 37-year-old Timothy Owens, of Effingham, Ill.
Lopez’s father has said his son “must not have been in his right mind” and that a number of factors could have led to deadly mass shooting at the Army post Wednesday.
Ivan Lopez Sr., in a statement from his native Puerto Rico, said his son was a calm family man and good son who defended his nation. The family added that Lopez “was under medical treatment and the passing of his mother, his grandfather and the recent changes when transferring to the base surely affected his existing condition.”
Wednesday’s attack was the second at the base since 2009, when 13 people were killed by Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, who had said he was angry about being deployed to Afghanistan and wanted to protect Islamic and Taliban leaders from U.S. troops, says the Huff Post.