The mental health of Fort Hood gunman Spc. Ivan Lopez, who killed three fellow soldiers and wounded 16 before killing himself, was not the main factor in his deadly shooting rampage Wednesday, military officials said Friday, although Lopez's family has said he "must not have been in his right mind."
"His underlying medical conditions are not a direct precipitating factor. We believe that the immediate precipitating factor was more likely an escalating argument in his unit area," Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the commanding general at Fort Hood, said at a news conference Friday afternoon.
He said investigators were still examining Lopez's combat experience but have so far uncovered no specific traumatic events, wounds in action, contact with the enemy or other events.
According to the father of one of the injured soldiers, Army Sgt. Jonathan Westbrook, Lopez opened fire after he tried to pick up a leave form and was told to come back later. NBC News reported that Theodis Westbrook, the victim's father, said his son told him that the gunman was "told to come back the next day to pick it up" and then left, returned with a gun and opened fire.
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."
The gunman's family released the following statement. Below is a translation of the original:
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.
Army CID Gives Updates on Shooting Investigation
Chris Grey, the spokesperson for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, said Friday that numerous reports of gunfire from several locations led to the confusion and chaos of two gunmen being reported on the post.
Army officials said more than 150 investigators from a variety of military, federal and state agencies are involved in the investigation that encompasses a two-block area. The crime scene includes the interior of three buildings and three outside locations.
Grey said the shooting most likely began following a verbal altercation with soldiers from Lopez's unit and that after the shooting began, Lopez traveled to two other locations and continued firing.
As Lopez approached an MP, Grey said there was a verbal exchange and that the MP fired one round toward Lopez. Officials do not believe this round hit Lopez, though that will ultimately be confirmed by the medical examiner. After the MP fired, Lopez pulled out his weapon, pointed it toward his head and fired a single round, officials said.
Army investigators believe Lopez acted alone and have found no evidence of any link to any domestic or international terrorist or extremist group.
Six Remain Hospitalized; Discharged Survivors Return to Duty
Ten of the 16 injured have been treated and released from the hospital and are back on duty, Milley said Friday. Of the remaining six, three are being treated at Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood and three in fair condition are being treated at Baylor Scott & White in Temple.
A memorial service will be held Wednesday, April 9. The time for the memorial has not yet been determined and further details are to come.