Fort Hood gunman's mental condition was not 'direct precipitating factor'

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP/WJLA) - The senior officer at Fort Hood says the mental condition of the soldier who fatally shot three soldiers and wounded 16 others earlier this week was not the "direct precipitating factor" in the shooting.

The comments Friday by Lt. Gen. Mark Milley came a day after he said Spc. Ivan Lopez's mental condition appeared to be an underlying factor.

Milley said Friday that an "escalating argument" with soldiers in Lopez's unit precipitated the attack.

Sergeant First Class Danny Ferguson had just returned from Afghanistan, only to be killed on his own base. He, like Timothy Owens, was just married and was one of the 19 victims who were shot.

Now, many are wondering: What caused Ivan Lopez to snap? After all, a former commander gave him high marks:

"He was one of my best soldiers in the organization."

Even neighbors called him cordial.

But privately, it appears Lopez was suffering. He had seen an Army psychiatrist last month for depression, anxiety, and sleeping problems.

A Facebook page of his under the pseudonym “Ivan Slipknot,” according to Fox News Latino, shared this chilling post: “I have lost my spiritual peace, full of hatred. I think this time, the devil will take me.”

Lopez was also being examined for PTSD, but according to one expert, that isn't necessarily a reason or excuse for his extreme actions.

"There are millions of people right now suffering from PTSD -- how many of them engage in violent behavior? A very, very small portion of it doesn't tell us anything,” said Dr. Alan Berman of the American Association of Suicidology.

Berman adds that it is much easier to look back in hindsight at what could have been done than to actually prevent incidents like this in the first place.

“Risk may be there in any one of us under the right circumstances if enough bad things go wrong at the same time, but again, unless they're communicated in behavior or in words, there's no way we can crystal ball who's going to act in a way to harm themselves or others."