FORT HOOD, Texas — The soldier who killed three people at Fort Hood may have argued with another service member shortly before the attack, and investigators believe his unstable mental health contributed to the rampage, authorities said yesterday.
The base’s senior officer, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, said there is a “strong possibility” that Spc. Ivan Lopez had a “verbal altercation” with another soldier or soldiers immediately before Wednesday’s shooting, which unfolded on the same Army post that was the scene of an infamous 2009 mass shooting.
However, there’s no indication that he targeted specific soldiers, Milley said.
Lopez never saw combat during a deployment to Iraq and had shown no apparent risk of violence before the shooting, officials said.
The 34-year-old truck driver seemed to have a clean record that showed no ties to extremist groups. But the Army secretary promised that investigators would keep all avenues open in their inquiry of the soldier whose rampage ended only after he fired a final bullet into his own head.
“We’re not making any assumptions by that. We’re going to keep an open mind and an open investigation. We will go where the facts lead us,” Army Secretary John McHugh said, explaining that “possible extremist involvement is still being looked at very, very carefully.”
A hospital official expressed optimism yesterday that none of the 16 people who were wounded in the shooting would die.
Three critically wounded patients at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in nearby Temple were expected to survive. Several others were to be discharged yesterday, said Dr. Matthew Davis, the hospital’s trauma director.
Scott & White is the area’s only trauma center, and any patients with life-threatening injuries would probably go there. The hospital had no information about patients being treated elsewhere, including at a base hospital.