A California transit employee on Wednesday, May 26, shot nine coworkers before killing himself, expanding a string of tragic mass shootings in the United States, leading the state’s governor to wonder, “What the hell is wrong with us?” Eight of the victims died during the shooting; the ninth man was rushed to the hospital but died soon after.
Authorities could not immediately provide many details or suspected reason for the killing, which occurred at 6:30 a.m. (Pacific Time) at a light-rail yard for commuter trains operated by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) in the heart of Silicon Valley – San Francisco Bay Area.
At a press conference, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy Russell Davis said his team brought a bomb squad to search the yard and surround buildings after discovering one explosive device.
According to Sheriff Laurie Smith, the shooting was still going on when her first officers got to the site, and the offender killed himself when he saw authorities were closing in on him.
According to Davis, officers never fired any shots. Nonetheless, Smith commended officers from the sheriff’s department, who hurried to the incident from their office next door to the rail yard, for saving a far larger loss of life.
A California transit employee killed eight co-workers and wounded another before taking his own life in the latest of a spate of deadly mass U.S. shootings. More photos from San Jose: https://t.co/MHfgjgOIag 📷 Peter DaSilva pic.twitter.com/QE3LJwO92Y— Reuters Pictures (@reuterspictures) May 26, 2021
Governor Gavin Newsom, who appeared in San Jose alongside Smith and others, expressed his displeasure with the incidence and regulation of gun violence in the United States.
“There’s a similarity to this, and I believe that numbness is something we’re all feeling,” Newsom added. “What the hell is going on in the United States of America, it begs the question? What the heck is going on with us, and when are we going to realize it?”
Officials said the attacker and his nine victims who died were all transport service workers near the airport. The bodies were discovered in two structures on the property.
The fatalities were recognized by the Santa Clara County coroner’s office on Wednesday night, many of whom had worked for the transport agency for a long period as 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.
Alex Ward Fritch, 49, died late Wednesday after being taken to the hospital in a critical condition.
Authorities did not release the gunman’s identity and age. The San Jose Mercury News and other media sites identified the killer as Samuel Cassidy, 57, a maintenance worker at the yard.
Data released by the nonprofit website Transportation California shows that Cassidy had worked for the transit since 2012, when he was identified as an “electro-mechanic,” and was promoted to “substation maintenance” in 2015.
According to records, he was paid $102,000 last year, plus perks and $20,000 in overtime.
According to online court documents, the suspect and another individual obtained a domestic violence restraining order against one other in 2009, three years after Cassidy divorced his wife.
“A horrible tragedy has happened today and our thoughts and love go out to the VTA family,” said Glenn Hendricks, chairman of the VTA board.
The incident occurred in an area of the train yard where personnel undertake vehicle maintenance, not in the facility’s operations and control center. Following the shooting, rail services on the commuter route were halted.
San Jose, a city of roughly 1 million people, is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, a worldwide technological powerhouse that is home to some of the country’s largest high-tech firms.
In televised appearances, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo acknowledged that officials had rushed to a fire at the suspect’s residence that had started about the same time as the shooting.
Hours after the shooting, many fire department, police, and bomb squad vehicles were still parked outside the suspect’s residence in a cul-de-sac in southern San Jose.
While two bomb squad experts entered the ranch-style house, an explosives-detecting robot sat in the street nearby. Agents from the FBI and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives were also there, including arson investigators.
According to the White House, President Joe Biden was briefed on the shooting. His team continued to monitor the situation while maintaining in touch with local officials to give any required help.
“What’s clear,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, “as the president has said, is that we are suffering from an epidemic of gun violence in this country, both from mass shootings and in the lives that are being taken in daily gun violence that doesn’t make national headlines.”
Following a year-long calm, as the United States emerged from the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak this spring, mass gun violence has increased significantly in a society with one of the world’s highest rates of weapon ownership.
This massacre was the latest in a run of at least nine deadly mass shootings in the United States in the last three months, beginning with a succession of assaults at Atlanta-area day spas that claimed eight lives in mid-March and a rampage days later that killed ten at a Colorado supermarket.
Last month, a former FedEx employee in Indianapolis shot and killed eight coworkers before killing himself. At a birthday celebration in Colorado earlier this month, a man fatally shot his fiancée and five other people before killing himself.
According to the Gun Violence Archive report, a non-profit research group, there were at least 200 mass shootings in the United States in the first 132 days of this year.