Fort Hood gunman argued with other soldiers

Investigators seek clues to cause of Wednesday deaths

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FORT HOOD, Texas — 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, said Friday that an “escalating argument” precipitated the assault. He declined to discuss 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.”

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, 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, 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.”

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 Daniel Ferguson, 39, of Mulberry, Fla.; Carlos Lazaney-Rodriguez, 38, of Puerto Rico; and Timothy Owens, 37, of Effingham, Ill.

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