Nine people were killed and multiple people were injured when a Valley Transportation Authority employee went on a deadly shooting rampage on Wednesday at the San Jose, California transit facility, authorities said.
The shooter was identified by law enforcement officials as Samuel Cassidy, 57, NBC Bay Area reported. He was found dead after opening fire around 6:34 a.m. local time at the Valley Transportation Authority light rail yard, located at 101 W. Younger Ave.
Explosive devices were also found inside the building, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Deputy Russell Davis during a press briefing on Wednesday.
“It is an ongoing and active investigation,” Davis said. “We are still trying to find out what transpired and what happened at this point.”
City, county, and federal agencies, including the FBI, District Attorney’s office, and Homeland Security were all assisting in the investigation, Davis said.
“We want to ensure public safety that is our number one priority right now,” Davis said.
A reunification center at the Isaac Newton Auditorium was set up for any employees or family members looking for information.
The area where the shooting took place was cordoned off by law enforcement as the bomb squad and multiple agencies searched the area.
During the briefing, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said it is “undetermined at this point if the suspect killed himself or if he was killed by a deputy.” It was later confirmed the gunman shot himself as officers approached him.
Smith said that the San Jose Police Department and their team entered the building when the shots were still being fired.
“My heart goes out to the family and to the victims. I am just so sorry. It is a very tragic situation,” Smith said.
She continued, “We have very brave officers and deputies.”
The site is a maintenance yard that includes storage for trains and is located less than a block from the County Sheriff’s office, the Chronicle reported.
During the news conference, Glenn Hendricks, president of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority expressed his sympathy.
“Our thoughts and our love to go or VTA family to the employees who were at the yard and everyone else who is a VTA employee and their family members,” he said.
He said light rail service will stop at noon today and a bus bridge will be available to continue to provide service to the county residents.
“I just want to say how proud I am of our VTA family. The stress that they are going through, the friends and family, that they know, it has just been a terrible event for them,” he said.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said it was a “very dark moment for our city and for our community.”
“These are and were essential workers,” Liccardo said. “These VTA employees helped us get through this horrific pandemic. They were showing up every day to operate light rail and buses to ensure that people could still continue to go about their lives and they were taking their risks with their own lives in doing so.”
He also commended the swift response of the police, sheriff, and deputies that were on the scene and the crew of counselors already hard at work for those suffering from trauma.
“We already see people pulling together during this very tough time,” Liccardo said. “And we will continue to support and work together.”
A fire at a home 13 miles away believed to be the Cassidy’s went up in flames around the time of the shooting. As fire crews managed to get the fire under control, cans of gasoline and hundreds of rounds of ammunition were found, officials said. Some of the items were described by authorities as “bomb-making materials,” CBS reported.
By Thursday, the nine victims killed had been identified. The latest victim, who was hospitalized in critical condition, died late Wednesday, a report said. The victims in the VTA mass shooting ranged in age from 29 to 63, CBS News reported.
The Santa Clara County Office of the Medical Examiner-Coroner identified the casualties as Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; and Lars Kepler Lane, 63, and the latest victim, Alex Ward Fritch, 49, CNN reported.
All were employees of the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and the coworkers of the gunman, a long-time employee of the VTA, CBS News reported.
Cecilia Nelms, the ex-wife of the mass shooter, was devastated hearing the news of the deadly rampage. She told CBS News that Cassidy had a “temper,” and described it as “one of his biggest problems,” but said she “never thought he would do anything like that.”
Nelms told the Associated Press that when they were married, Cassidy was disgruntled and eerily talked about killing people at work going as far back as a decade..
“I never believed him,” Nelms said. “It never happened. Until now.”
Wednesday’s massacre was the 232nd shooting in which at least four people were shot in the United States so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, cited CNN. It was also the 60th mass shooting in the U.S. this month, CBS reported.
President Biden called the deadly massacre a “horrific tragedy,” and in a statement said “enough.” He called on Congress to take immediate action on gun control legislation, CBS said.
To honor the victims, the president had flags flown at half-mast.
San Jose Councilmember Raul Peralez’s friend he’s known since middle school, Michael Joseph Rudometkin, was one of the people killed in the tragedy, CBS reported.
In a Facebook post, Peralez expressed his grief. “There are no words to describe the heartache we are feeling right now, especially for his family,” Peralez said.
Taptejdeep Singh, another VTA employee killed at the hands of the shooter, was married with two young children, according to a report.
His cousin, Bagga Singh, told CBS News, “We heard that (the gunman) chose the people to shoot, but I don’t know why they choose him because he has nothing to do with him.”
Another victim was 49-year-old Michael Romo, who was planning a vacation with his wife to visit their son, his neighbor Keith Baldwin told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“I was hoping to see him walking through here,” Baldwin told the Chronicle.
A vigil for the shooting victims will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall Plaza.
This is a developing story. Click here for the latest.