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Soldier's Mental Health Did Not Prompt Fort Hood Shooting, Senior Officer Says

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FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — The Fort Hood soldier who gunned down three other military men before killing himself had an argument with colleagues in his unit before opening fire, and investigators believe his mental condition was not the "direct precipitating factor" in the shooting, authorities said Friday.

The base's commander, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, offered those details a day after saying that Spc. Ivan Lopez's mental condition appeared to be an underlying factor in the attack.

On Friday, Milley said that an "escalating argument" precipitated the assault. 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.

"There was no premeditated targeting of an individual," he said.

Chris Grey, a spokesman for the Army's Criminal Investigation Command based in Quantico, Va., said the military has not established a "concrete motive."

And because Lopez is dead, he added, "the possibility does exist that we may never know why the alleged shooter did what he did."

The crime scene encompasses two city blocks, Grey said.

Lopez initially began firing near an intersection, then traveled to several nearby buildings, went inside and kept firing. While driving to those locations in his vehicle, he fired indiscriminately at other soldiers, Grey said.

Grey also confirmed for the first time that the military police officer who confronted Lopez exchanged words with him before firing a single round at him that apparently missed. That's when the gunman put his .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol against his head and pulled the trigger one last time.

Authorities have interviewed more than 900 people in their investigation, Grey said.

Also Friday, Lopez's father said his son had struggled with the recent deaths of his mother and grandfather and the stress of being transferred to a new base.

Lopez's father, who shares the same name, said his son was receiving medical treatment but was a peaceful family man and a hard worker.

"This is very painful for me," the elder Lopez said in the statement issued from his native Puerto Rico. He called for prayers for the dead and the 16 people who were wounded in the rampage.

"My son could not have been in his right mind," Lopez said. "He was not like that."

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.

Lopez, an Army truck driver, did a short stint in Iraq in 2011 and told medical personnel he had suffered a traumatic brain injury. The 34-year-old was undergoing treatment for depression and anxiety while being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder, base officials said.

But officials said Lopez did not see any combat in Iraq and had not previously demonstrated a risk of violence. He seemed to have a clean record that showed no ties to potential terrorists. Lopez had arrived at Fort Hood in February Fort Bliss, another Texas base near the Mexico border.

A family spokesman said Thursday that Lopez was upset he was granted only a 24-hour leave to attend his mother's funeral in November. That leave was then extended to two days.

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.

Six soldiers wounded in the attack remained hospitalized Friday. Ten of the 16 have been released, Milley said.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Ted Cruz visited some of the wounded at a military hospital. Cruz said he was inspired by a soldier who had suffered a bullet wound to his abdomen, but still shielded other soldiers and called 911.

___

Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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The Associated Press reports:

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — The senior officer at Fort Hood says the mental condition of the soldier who fatally shot three soldiers and wounded 16 others earlier this week was not the "direct precipitating factor" in the shooting.

The comments Friday by Lt. Gen. Mark Milley came a day after he said Spc. Ivan (ee-VAHN') Lopez's mental condition appeared to be an underlying factor.

Milley said Friday that an "escalating argument" precipitated the attack.

Authorities say their investigation has found Lopez had an altercation Wednesday with soldiers in his unit that prompted the shooting.

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Lt. Gen. Mark Milley and other U.S. Military officials provided additional details on the investigation of the Fort Hood shooting, saying that while the process was ongoing, the rampage was believed to have been preceded by a "escalating argument" involving the alleged shooter, Spc. Ivan Lopez. Officials said that the alleged shooter's mental condition was not the "direct precipitating factor" to the shooting. He said that the alleged shooter's mental health would be fully investigated.

An official said that at the time it is believed that there was "No premeditated targeting of any specific individuals" in the shooting. The weapon used in the shooting had been recovered, and the official said the weapon was purchased on March 1 outside of the base.

The Fort Hood officials said that 10 of the 16 wounded who were admitted to hospital facilities following the shooting had been released and returned to duty.

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In a press briefing, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley identified the three soldiers killed in the Fort Hood shooting: Sgt. First Class Daniel M. Ferguson, age 39; Staff Sgt. Carlos A. Lazaney Rodriguez, age 38; Sgt. Timothy W. Owens, age 37.

Read HuffPost's report here.

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The New York Times reports:

The soldier at Fort Hood who killed or wounded 19 of his fellow Army members on Wednesday had a dispute with his superiors over their denial of a leave request shortly before the shooting rampage, a law enforcement official said Friday.

The report goes on:

Investigators were also looking into Specialist Lopez’s dispute with Army superiors who had denied his request for leave. He met with Fort Hood officials about the denial on Wednesday shortly before the shooting started and had been clearly agitated and disrespectful after the meeting, the law enforcement official said. It was unclear why he wanted to take time off, but it appeared to involve his family.

Read the report from The New York Times here.

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NBC has released a statement from the family of the alleged Fort Hood shooter, Spc. Ivan Lopez.

Facing the tragedy that occurred on April 2 in Fort Hood, TX, the family of the Puerto Rican soldier Iván López is concerned and asks for prayers for those affected and deceased by the unfortunate incidents. Iván López, father of the soldier, is still in shock and described his son as a calm family man, a young worker who always looked out for the well being of his home and a good son.

"This situation has caused great pain. I ask for prayers for the affected families, even more so when there is still an ongoing investigation. My son must not have been in his right mind, he wasn't like that," said Iván López, Sr.

As an active soldier he defended the nation and received medals. He also worked honorably as a policeman on the island. According to his father, the soldier 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 because of his experiences as a soldier. No more comments shall be made during the investigation conducted by authorities.

Read the NBC report here.

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AP reports:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says it's too soon to draw any broad conclusions about safety at U.S. military bases after the deadly shootings at Fort Hood, Texas.

He said Thursday that as the investigation unfolds, the Pentagon will continue to take a close look at any new lessons that can be learned from Wednesday's tragedy and implement any needed changes to base security.

Read the full story here.

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One of the victims of Wednesday's shooting has been identified as U.S. Army Sgt. Timothy Owens. His family told the AP that he was a native of Effingham, Ill.

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According to the NYT, Fort Hood does very little to keep guns off the military base.

"Fort Hood’s weapons rules for soldiers who are not police officers rely in large part on the honor system," the Times reports.

The base does not require entrants to go through a metal detector or any similar screening, a source told the Times.

For more, click here.

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He [Lopez] sought help for depression and anxiety and was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder, military officials said. But Army Secretary John McHugh said Thursday that a psychiatrist last month found no violent or suicidal tendencies. The soldier was prescribed Ambien for a sleeping problem.

He had no apparent links to extremists, McHugh said.

Glidden Lopez Torres, who is not related to the gunman but identified himself as a family friend speaking on behalf of the soldier's family in Puerto Rico, said Lopez's mother died of a heart attack in November.

Lopez was close to her and was apparently upset that he was granted only a short leave — 24 hours, later extended to two days — to go to her funeral, which was delayed for nearly a week so he could make it, the family spokesman said.

The family was not aware that Lopez was receiving any treatment for mental problems, the spokesman said.

Read more here from The Associated Press.

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FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — Army official: Lopez's unstable mental health believed to be an underlying cause of attack.

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FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — A Fort Hood official says there is a "strong possibility" that the gunman who killed three people and wounded 16 others at the Texas military base argued with one or more soldiers immediately before the shooting.

Fort Hood's senior officer, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, said Thursday that investigators are looking into whether Spc. Ivan Lopez had a "verbal altercation" with another soldier or soldiers before Wednesday's shooting.

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At a press briefing Lt. Gen. Mark Milley confirmed the identity of the alleged Fort Hood shooter as Ivan A. Lopez, age 34. Milley added that Lopez was originally from Puerto Rico, and that he had been transferred to Fort Hood from Fort Bliss in Texas.

Milley said that of the 16 soldiers injured in the shooting that were admitted to hospitals, four had been released from the facilities.

Milley said that the Army would lead a "thorough investigation" and that they had "not yet ruled out anything whatsoever." Milley added that at the time there was no indication of a link to terrorism. There was a "strong possibility" that there had been a verbal altercation before the shooting Milley said.

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The shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, that left four people dead and 16 injured on Wednesday was not the second — or even the third — incident of gun violence at the base. Here's a list of shootings at U.S. military facilities over the last two decades.

Check out the story here from The Washington Post.

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The photo is sourced to a document obtained by NBC News.

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An initial portrait of Ivan Lopez, the Iraq War veteran allegedly responsible for the mass shooting Wednesday afternoon at Fort Hood, is slowly emerging.

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, identified Lopez, 34, as the alleged shooter following the incident. According to military officials, Lopez was a specialist assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command, a logistics and support unit at Fort Hood.

During a Thursday Senate Armed Services Committee meeting, Army Secretary John McHugh said Lopez, a native of Puerto Rico, joined the Army in June 2008. Previously, the solider served with the Puerto Rico National Guard.

Read the full story here.

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From NBC News:

The family of Fort Hood gunman Ivan Lopez is "destroyed" by the news that he killed three people, wounded 16 others and then committed suicide on the tragedy-scarred Army base, a relative told NBC News.

"How is it possible this happened?" asked Margarita Class, who spoke to Lopez's sister Ivanis by phone after he was identified as the shooter in Wednesday's rampage.

"The family is destroyed," she said.

Read the full story here.

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House Speaker John Boehner said that there's "no question" that people who have metal illness shouldn't be able to own guns.

“There’s no question that those with mental health issues should be prevented from owning weapons or being able to purchase weapons,” Boehner said, according to the Hill.

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ThinkProgress takes a look:

Current federal law only bars people who have been involuntarily committed to inpatient mental health treatment or officially adjudicated mentally ill by a court from owning a firearm and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reports veterans to the background check system if they’ve been deemed mentally incompetent. The Obama administration took several steps to enhance those rules at the beginning of this year, but gun safety advocates told ThinkProgress that more needs to be done, particularly for soldiers afflicted with PTSD.

Read the full story here.

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8 men and one woman are still hospitalized, the hospital said in a press briefing. 3 are still in critical condition.

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Wednesday's shooting has reopened some old wounds related to the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, Roll Call notes. Both victims and families of victims of the 2009 tragedy have expressed frustration that they weren't given compensation that victims of war normally would. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced a bill in September to help resolve the issue, but it has yet to receive a vote.

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