The gunman who killed nine colleagues at a light rail yard in Northern California before killing himself appeared to target his victims, a sheriff told CNN on Thursday.
During Wednesday morning’s rampage at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) property in San Jose, the shooter told a local union official there that “I’m not going to shoot you,” Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said.
The union official does not work for VTA, Smith said.
The gunman, a VTA employe armed with two semiautomatic handguns, fatally shot nine coworkers inside two buildings around the time of a morning shift change before taking his own life in front of responding law enforcement officers, authorities have said.
The shooter has been identified as Sam Cassidy, a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation confirmed to CNN.
The gunman fired 39 rounds, Smith told CNN. Authorities have said they are trying to determine the motive.
A witness told CNN affiliate KGO that he also believed the gunman bypassed certain people and appeared to select those he shot.
“He … was targeting certain people. He walked by other people,” VTA worker Kirk Bertolet told KGO on Wednesday night. “He let other people live as he gunned down other people.”
The shooting is the latest example of America’s gun violence scourge. It is the 232nd mass shooting — which CNN also defines as a shooting in which at least four people were wounded or injured — this year, according to a tally by the Gun Violence Archive. Seventeen such shootings have happened in the past week, a CNN analysis of the archive shows.
President Joe Biden reacted to the San Jose shooting by urging Congress to “take immediate action” on gun legislation.
“Enough,” Biden said Wednesday. “Once again, I urge Congress to take immediate action and heed the call of the American people, including the vast majority of gun owners, to help end this epidemic of gun violence in America.”
The San Jose killings are the latest against essential workers sustaining the US economy during the Covid-19 pandemic, following high-profile shootings including those in Indianapolis and Boulder, Colorado.
The property where the shooting happened is where vehicles of VTA — a public transit operation that runs bus and light rail service — are maintained and dispatched.
Those killed, who ranged in age from 29 to 63, were: Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; Adrian Balleza, 29; Alex Ward Fritch, 49; Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35; Lars Kepler Lane, 63; Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; and Taptejdeep Singh, 36, the Santa Clara County coroner’s office said.
Emergency calls about the shooting began just after 6:30 a.m. PT, as employees from the midnight shift and the day shift overlapped, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy Russell Davis said.
Minutes after authorities were called about the shooting, firefighters were called to a fire at the suspect’s home in San Jose, Smith, the sheriff, told CNN on Thursday morning. It’s not immediately clear how that fire started.
The gunman shot people inside two buildings at the rail yard, Smith told CNN.
The shooter had two semiautomatic handguns and 11 magazines with ammunition, Smith told CNN.
“They were handguns of the type that would be legal in California,” Smith said, adding she didn’t know how or when the gunman obtained the weapons.
Deputies and other law enforcement officers arrived as the shooting continued, within two minutes of the calls, as the sheriff’s office has a station nearby. They confronted the gunman on a building’s third floor within six minutes, Smith told CNN.
The gunman “took his own life in front of the deputies,” Smith told CNN. She said she believes the law enforcement officers’ quick response saved many lives.
During a sweep of the scene Wednesday, bomb-sniffing dogs alerted investigators to the gunman’s locker at work. In the locker, investigators found “precursor things for explosives … ingredients for a device,” Smith said Thursday. That included detonation pulls, she said.
Smith didn’t know why the items were there or what the gunman might have intended for them, she said.
Investigators have found ammunition and “a lot more” at the gunman’s house, said Smith, who didn’t go into detail about the materials found there.