Ivan Lopez May Have Argued With Soldiers Before Fort Hood Shooting

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Ivan Lopez May Have Argued With Soldiers Before Fort Hood Shooting
Former Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan wrote in a letter that "it would be an honor" to become a "citizen" of the Islamic State.
HARKER HEIGHTS, TX - APRIL 3: Memorial scribbles on the front door of the apartment of Carlos Lazaney, one of the deceased victims of the latest Fort Hood shooting, on Thursday, April 3, 2014, in Harker Heights, TX. Soldier Ivan Lopez killed three people and injured 16 others before turning the gun on himself on Wednesday. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
This undated photo provided by Glidden Lopez shows Army Spc. Ivan Lopez. Authorities said Lopez killed three people and wounded 16 others in a shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, before killing himself. Investigators believe his unstable mental health contributed to the rampage. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Glidden Lopez)
This undated image provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety shows Army Spc. Ivan Lopez. Authorities said Lopez killed three people and wounded 16 others in a shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, before killing himself. Investigators believe his unstable mental health contributed to the rampage. (AP Photo/Texas Department of Public Safety)
This photo provided by Glidden Lopez shows Army Spc. Ivan Lopez. Authorities said Lopez killed three people and wounded 16 others in a shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, before killing himself. Investigators believe his unstable mental health contributed to the rampage. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Glidden Lopez)
This undated photo provided by Glidden Lopez shows Army Spc. Ivan Lopez. Authorities said Lopez killed three people and wounded 16 others in a shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, before killing himself. Investigators believe his unstable mental health contributed to the rampage. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Glidden Lopez)
Lucy Hamlin and her husband, Spc. Timothy Hamlin, wait for permission to re-enter the Fort Hood military base, where they live, following a shooting on the base, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Fort Hood, Texas. (AP Photo/ Tamir Kalifa)
FORT HOOD, TX - APRIL 2, 2014: General Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General, speaks to media during a press conference about a shooting that occurred earlier in the day at Fort Hood Military Base on April 2, 2014 in Fort Hood, Texas. Milley confirmed that four people were dead in the shooting, including the gunman himself. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)
FORT HOOD, TX - APRIL 2, 2014: General Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General, speaks to media during a press conference about a shooting that occurred earlier in the day at Fort Hood Military Base on April 2, 2014 in Fort Hood, Texas. Milley confirmed that four people were dead in the shooting, including the gunman himself. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama makes a statement to the press on April 2, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois, on the shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas. One person was killed and 14 others wounded April 2, 2014 in a shooting incident at Fort Hood, a US official said. AFP PHOTO / Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
FORT HOOD, TX - APRIL 2, 2014: A soldier watches over media as they prepare to hear General Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General, speak during a press conference about a shooting that occurred earlier in the day at Fort Hood Military Base on April 2, 2014 in Fort Hood, Texas. Milley confirmed that four people were dead in the shooting, including the gunman himself. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)
Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the senior officer on base, speaks with the media outside of an entrance to the Fort Hood military base following a shooting that occurred inside, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Fort Hood, Texas. Four people were killed, including the gunman, and 16 were wounded in the attack, authorities said. (AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa)
Members of the media wait outside of the Bernie Beck Gate, an entrance to the Fort Hood military base, for updates on a shooting that occurred inside on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Fort Hood, Texas. (AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa)
Members of the media wait outside of the Bernie Beck Gate, an entrance to the Fort Hood military base, for updates on a shooting that occurred inside on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 in Fort Hood, Texas. (AP Photo/ Tamir Kalifa)
President Barack Obama arrives on Air Force One, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., as he returns from Chicago where he attended Democratic National Committee (DNC) events and the University of Michigan where he spoke about his proposal to raise the national minimum wage. He also spoke about the Fort Hood shooting. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks about the shooting at Fort Hood during a news conference on the flight deck of the USS Anchorage (LPD-23), an amphibious transport dock ship, after a tour with his counterparts from Southeast Asia April 2, 2014 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu, Hawaii. Secretary Hagel is in Hawaii to host a meeting of defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). A MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor V/STOL aircraft is in the background, (AP Photo/Alex Wong, Pool)
Local and Military police direct traffic outside of an entrance to Fort Hood following reports of an active shooting on the military base in Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Fort Hood, Texas. (AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa)
Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood, speaks with the media outside of an entrance to the Fort Hood military base following a shooting that occurred inside on April 2, 2014 in Fort Hood, TX. Four people died, including the gunman, and 16 were wounded in the attack. (AP Photo/ Tamir Kalifa)
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FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -- The soldier who killed three people at Fort Hood may have argued with another service member prior to the attack, and investigators believe his unstable mental health contributed to the rampage, authorities said Thursday.

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 from Puerto Rico 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."

Scott & White Memorial Hospital in nearby Temple, Texas, was still caring for five of the 16 people who were wounded. Three were in serious condition, and two others were in good condition and could be discharged later Thursday.

Hospital officials had no information about patients being treated elsewhere, including at a base hospital. But because the hospital is the area's only trauma center, the patients with the most serious injuries were probably taken there.

Within hours of Wednesday's assault, investigators started looking into whether Lopez had lingering psychological trauma from his time in Iraq. The shooter had sought help for depression, anxiety and other problems, and was taking medication, military officials said.

Investigators searched the soldier's home Thursday and questioned his wife, Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug said.

Lopez apparently walked into a building Wednesday and began firing a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol. He then got into a vehicle and continued firing before entering another building. He was eventually confronted by military police in a parking lot, according to Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, senior officer on the base.

As he came within 20 feet of a police officer, the gunman put his hands up but then reached under his jacket and pulled out his gun. The officer drew her own weapon, and the suspect put his gun to his head and pulled the trigger a final time, Milley said.

Lopez grew up in Guayanilla, a town of fewer than 10,000 people on the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico, with a mother who was a nurse at a public clinic and a father who did maintenance for an electric utility company.

Glidden Lopez Torres, who said he was a friend speaking for the family, said Lopez's mother died of a heart attack in November.

The soldier was upset that he was granted only a 24-hour leave to attend her funeral, which was delayed for nearly a week so he could be there, the spokesman said. The leave was then extended to two days.

Lopez joined the island's National Guard in 1999 and served on a yearlong peacekeeping mission in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in the mid-2000s. He enlisted with the Army in 2008, McHugh said.

Lopez saw no combat during a four-month deployment to Iraq as a truck driver in 2011. A review of his service record showed no Purple Heart, indicating he was never wounded, McHugh said. He arrived at Fort Hood in February from Fort Bliss, Texas.

He saw a psychiatrist last month and showed no "sign of any likely violence either to himself or others," McHugh said.

Suzie Miller, a 71-year-old retired property manager who lived in the same Killeen apartment complex as Lopez, said few people knew him and his wife well because they had just moved in a few weeks ago.

"I'd see him in his uniform heading out to the car every morning," Miller said. "He was friendly to me and a lot of us around here."

Shaneice Banks, a 21-year-old business-management student who lived downstairs from the Lopezes, said her husband, who also works at Fort Hood, helped the couple move in. Hours before the shooting, Banks said she ran in to Lopez when he came home for lunch.

"He was going to his car, and I was like `Hey, how's your day going?' And he seemed perfectly fine. He was like, `Day's going pretty good. I'll see you whenever I come back home.'"

When word came out that there was a shooting at the base, Banks saw Lopez's wife frantically calling her husband over and over, trying to reach him via cellphone from the apartment's shared courtyard.

"She was bawling because they have a 2-year-old, and she was just holding the baby," Banks said. "My heart just went out to her. I was trying to get her information when I could but she doesn't speak a lot of English."

Xanderia Morris lives next door to Banks. She also saw Karla Lopez distraught in the courtyard.

"We tried to console her. She called some people over, and we were consoling her, and then she started up the stairs back to his apartment, and they identified him as the shooter on television. She just broke down. We had to rush her up the stairs so nothing would happen to her," Morris said.

Neighbors took Lopez into Morris' apartment, where she sat crying on the sofa for a long time.

The shootings revived memories of the November 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, the deadliest attack on a domestic military installation in U.S. history. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 were wounded.

Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan was convicted last year in that assault, which he has said was to protect Islamic insurgents abroad from American aggression.

After that shooting, the military tightened base security nationwide.

In September, a former Navy man opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, leaving 13 people dead, including the gunman. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the Pentagon to review security at all U.S. defense installations worldwide.

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