Investigators: Argument may have preceded Fort Hood shooting rampage
The father of Ivan Lopez says he's struggling to comprehend how his son could have opened fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas.
In a statement from his native Puerto Rico, the elder Ivan Lopez called for prayers for the three people killed and 16 wounded in the attack earlier this week.
His brief statement Friday was his first since the shooting at the Army post where his son was stationed. He recalled Lopez as a peaceful man and hard worker but apparently struggling with the recent deaths of his mother and grandfather and the stress of transferring to a new base.
Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the senior officer at Fort Hood, says Lopez's mental condition was not the "direct precipitating factor" in the shooting. The comments Friday came a day after Milley said Lopez's mental condition appeared to be an underlying factor.
The motive remains unknown. Officials have said Lopez was being treated for depression and anxiety and was involved in a verbal dispute just before the shooting.
Meantime, investigators are digging into Lopez's background. They are zeroing in on an argument that reportedly took place shortly before the shooting. Milley said Friday that an "escalating argument" precipitated the attack.
"There's a strong possibility that that might have preceded the shooting," said Lt. General Mark Miller, Fort Hood commander.
Another possible factor was that Lopez was reportedly upset about not getting more time to attend his mother's funeral. One neighbor, who talked with Lopez about delayed military leave, described him as a friendly guy who told him he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"He said 'I just shut down. Sometimes I just shut down,'" said Raeshun Turner, neighbor.
Among the fatalities in the shooting was ten-year veteran Sgt. Timothy Owen, who was recently married and had two children.
Major Patrick Miller and Keisha Fountain are among the wounded.
"We're going to make sure we're doing everything in our power to keep our troops safe and keep our troops strong, not only on the battle field, but when they come home," said Lt. Gen. Miller.
State leaders plan to meet with the victims, some of whom are already being hailed as heroes. Among them is the chaplain who was wounded while acting as a shield for others, and two injured soldiers who pushed through the pain to call 911 and alert authorities.
"There were several instances of clear heroism," said Lt. Gen. Miller.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.