SAN JOSE, Calif .– A rifleman opened fire on a northern California city train station on Wednesday, killing at least eight people in the recent rampage to rock the nation in the past few weeks.
Police spokesman Russell Davis said the gunman, an employee of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s (VTA) sprawling light rail hub, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and other employees were among the victims.
The victims were identified by the Santa Clara County’s coroner office Wednesday night, the Associated Press reported: Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63, and Lars Kepler Lane, 63.
One person was in critical condition at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, spokeswoman Joy Alexiou told USA TODAY.
Davis didn’t say how long the shooter had worked on the hub, what type of gun he was using, or if he had a gun license. One motive was not immediately clear.
“This is still an ongoing and ongoing incident,” said Davis. “We’re trying to find out what exactly happened.”
Davis said several emergency calls came in around 6:30 a.m. local time as officers changed shifts. The officers responded to the VTA construction site, which is used to store trains and which serves as a maintenance yard, and provided first aid, he said. The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office is nearby.
“When the sheriffs were there, they were there fast enough to still hear gunshots,” said district manager Cindy Chavez. “They did their best and got on campus as quickly as possible.”
Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said officers found deceased victims in two buildings on campus and the suspect was still alive when MPs arrived. “He took his own life when we found him,” she said, adding that MPs never exchanged fires with the suspect.
Smith said bomb dogs alerted officers to the presence of explosives at the scene and a bomb squad used a robot to go from room to room to clear the buildings.
“”There are many, many components that we continue to discover, “said Smith.
The FBI, Homeland Security, and the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Bureau helped on site. Craig Fair, the FBI special agent in charge, said the crime scene was “quite large” and would “take a while to process”.
The VTA operates three light rail lines with a length of more than 60 kilometers and operates 70 bus routes in the region. The light rail would be down for a few days, VTA said on Wednesday.
Law enforcement officers did not publicly name the suspect. However, there are two sources of law enforcement identified the suspect to the Associated Press as Samuel Cassidy. According to records, 57-year-old Cassidy had been admitted to the Bureau of Automotive Repair as a repair technician for smog checks since 2003. Before that he worked for a car dealership in the city.
Authorities have not disclosed whether Cassidy was a legal gun owner or what type of firearm was used in the attack. His social media presence – if he had one – is not apparent, nor is his criminal record.
Around the time of the shooting, the San Jose Fire Department responded to a major structural fire at an address given to Cassidy. Mayor Sam Liccardo said ABC-7 It seemed like the shooter lit the fire on the way to the construction site. The fire department was unable to immediately confirm a relationship between the incidents.
“This is a terrible day for our city and a tragic day for the VTA family,” said Liccardo. “Our hearts ache for the families and the employees.”
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The flags were halfway through on Wednesday afternoon and local officials set one up Fundraiser for victims and their families. A vigil was planned for Thursday, 6 p.m. local time in the town hall.
“These people were heroes during COVID-19. The buses never stopped driving. The VTA never stopped driving. They just kept working, and now we’re really asking them to be heroes a second time – to do something like that to survive.” terrible, terrible tragedy, “said Chavez.
Loved ones gathered at a family reunification center in the nearby county administration building, where counselors provided support, Liccardo said. Michael Hawkins, from San Jose, came to find his wife, Rochelle, a mechanic with the VTA, after receiving a message from her on the phone.
“I’m only here for my wife. I hope she’s okay and whoever is in there is fine,” said Hawkins. “She took her phone off working. She is fine. She was using a coworker’s phone.”
Angel Diaz, of San Jose, California, came to check on his brother Max Dominguez after he and his sister received a phone call asking them to go to the family reunification center.
“I’m a little worried,” said Diaz in Spanish. He said there could be many reasons why he hadn’t heard from his brother. “He’s driving a bus so they can’t make phone calls.”
Santa Clara County is the sixth largest county in California. Shooting Wednesday is the second mass shooting in less than two years. In 2019 a Sagittarius opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, killing three people and injuring 17.
Gilroy-born Koedy Bryant was in the Santa Clara area Wednesday morning watching the scene with other construction workers planning to install cameras on a VTA light rail project.
“It was definitely a huge shock to hear about the shootings this morning,” said Bryant. “I’m from Gilroy so I took care of it for the Gilroy Garlic shoot. It’s kind of shocking to be honest looking around here.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom, visibly emotional, expressed frustration at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. He said he felt an “equality” and “deafness” after another mass shooting.
“It begs the fucking question, what the hell is going on in the United States of America?” Said Newsom. “We flush and repeat somewhere else in this country.”
He urged Americans “to go beyond the platitudes and usual rhetoric” that usually follow a mass shooting and “not to make it meaningless”.
“We are still waiting for many details of this final mass shooting in San Jose, but there are some things we know for sure,” said President Joe Biden said on Twitter Wednesday. “There are at least eight families that will never be whole again. Every life that is hit by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation. We have to do more.”
According to an Associated Press / USA TODAY / Northeastern University database, 15 mass murders were committed in 2021, each with at least four victims dead. All of the cases were shootings and killed a total of 86.
According to the database, three occurred in Indianapolis, two in California, and two in Colorado. Six were in public places and were not involved in criminal activities such as robbery or illicit drug trafficking.
San Jose’s shooting was the worst mass shooting on the job since last month as a shooter killed eight people and then shot himself in a FedEx facility in Indianapolis.
“Today is about … sending love and support to everyone who came to work this morning to serve the public and ended up not going home,” said Jean Cohen, chief executive officer of the South Bay Labor Council. at a press conference on Wednesday. “It’s unacceptable.”
According to The Associated Press / USA TODAY / Northeastern University, 14 workplace shootings have been carried out since 2006, before shooting in Indianapolis last month and most recently in San Jose.
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“If you go to work you should be able to come back safely,” Cohen said. “For now, we’re going to make sure that we look after each other as a family.”
Bacon reported from Arlington, Virginia. Hauck reported from Edgartown, Massachusetts.
Contributors: Angelica Cabral, The Salinas Californian; Elinor Aspegren and Christal Hayes, USA TODAY; The Associated Press