Soldier was involved in dispute; Food Hood shooter's mental condition downplayed as factor.

Author:Weissert, Will

Byline: Will Weissert and Danica Coto

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, offered the details a day after saying that Spc. Ivan Lopez's mental condition appeared to be an underlying factor in the attack.

On Friday, Milley said that an ''escalating argument'' precipitated the assault. He declined to discuss the cause of 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.''

And because Lopez is dead, he added, ''the possibility does exist that we may never know why the alleged shooter did what he did.''

The crime scene encompasses two city blocks, Grey said.

Lopez initially began firing near an intersection, then traveled to several nearby buildings, went inside and kept firing. While driving to those locations in his vehicle, he fired indiscriminately at other soldiers, Grey said.

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...

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