FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — Unstable mental health may be a "fundamental, underlying cause" of a soldier's shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left four people dead, though an argument with another service member likely preceded the attack, according to investigators.
Spc. Ivan Lopez turned his gun on himself after killing three people and wounding 16 others Wednesday at the sprawling Texas military base, where more than a dozen people were fatally shot by a soldier in 2009. An Army truck driver from Puerto Rico, Lopez was undergoing treatment for depression and anxiety while being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder, base officials said.
Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, senior officer at the nation's largest Army base, said there was a "strong indication" that Lopez was involved in a verbal altercation shortly before the shooting, though it doesn't appear he targeted specific soldiers during the attack. But investigators also are focusing on his mental health.
"We have very strong evidence that he had a medical history that indicates unstable psychiatric or psychological condition," Milley said. "We believe that to be a fundamental, underlying cause."
Lopez had reported to medical personnel that he'd suffered a traumatic brain injury. The 34-year-old served four months in Iraq but saw no combat, and he previously had demonstrated no apparent risk of violence.
He seemed to have a clean record that showed no ties to potential terrorists, though military officials said the investigation was ongoing.
"We're not making any assumptions by that. We're going to keep an open mind and an open investigation," Army Secretary John McHugh said Thursday in Washington, explaining that "possible extremist involvement is still being looked at very, very carefully."
Three of the wounded in Wednesday's shooting remained in serious condition at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in nearby Temple on Friday. One other person was in good condition. Hospital officials had no information about patients being treated elsewhere, including at a base hospital. But because Scott & White is the area's only trauma center, the patients with the most serious injuries were probably taken there.