A shooting at a rail yard in San Jose, California, early Wednesday left eight people dead, not including the suspect, who was also declared deceased after taking his own life, authorities confirmed.
The suspect was identified as Samuel Cassidy, who was an employee at the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), where the incident took place, according to authorities. No motive is known for the shooting at this time.
Santa Clara County Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Russell Davis said several explosive devices were found inside a building at the VTA control center. A bomb squad is at the scene and there is no present danger to the community, he said.
An investigation is also underway of an arson fire at what is believed to be the nearby home of the suspect. FBI agents and the San Jose Fire Department were at the second scene. Authorities say the house caught fire before the shooting at the VTA.
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In Washington, D.C., principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the White House will continue to stay in close contact with local officials in San Jose, before using the shooting as an opportunity to call for Congress to strengthen background checks.
“The White House is monitoring the situation, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families,” Jean-Pierre said. “We still don’t have all the details, but what is clear, as the president has said, is that we are suffering from an epidemic of gun violence in this country, both in mass shootings and in the lives that are being taken in daily gun violence that doesn’t make national headlines.”
Deputies responded to multiple 911 calls around 6:30 a.m. local time about an “an active shooter” situation unfolding at a VTA facility in the area of 100 W. Younger Ave. and San Pedro Street in San Jose. VTA Chair Gel Hendricks confirmed that the shooting took place outside in the yard, not inside the control center. He said service would be suspended after the incident.
“It’s just very difficult for everyone to be able try to wrap their heads around and understand what has happened,” Hendricks said at a news conference.
“These folks were heroes during COVID-19, the buses never stopped running, VTA didn’t stop running. They just kept at work, and now we’re really calling on them to be heroes a second time to survive such a terrible, terrible tragedy,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez added.
Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputies, fire personnel and San Jose police responded to the initial shooting.
Special agents from the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were also responding to the crime scene, officials said.
The sheriff’s office tweeted an update before 8:30 a.m. local time that the “shooter is down.”
Mercury News first reported that “multiple” people were dead as a result of the incident. Mayor Sam Liccardo wrote on Twitter that the shooting happened at a VTA facility and that several people were being treated, as “the situation is still being assessed.”
“The shooter is no longer a threat, and the facility has been evacuated,” he said. “I will update as more information becomes available.”
Victims include VTA employees, Davis said.
“Our hearts are pained for the families of those we have lost in this horrific shooting,” Liccardo later tweeted, confirming the “shooter is deceased.” He said of the VTA family: “We mourn our lost coworkers and pray for the recovery of those being treated.”
Liccardo said the sheriff’s office set up a reunification center for families at a county building at 70 Hedding St., near First Street.
The VTA provides bus, light rail and other transit services throughout Santa Clara County, the largest in the Bay Area and home to Silicon Valley.
The shooting took place at a light rail facility that is next door to the sheriff’s department headquarters and across a freeway from the airport. The facility is a transit control center that stores trains and has a maintenance yard. It’s also located just two blocks from county buildings, the main jail and a courthouse.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted about the San Jose incident, saying: “We are in close contact with local law enforcement and monitoring this situation closely.”
“Our sincerest condolences and prayers to the victims’ families and our communities during this tragic incident,” San Jose Chief of Police Anthony Mata said in a statement. “Thank you to all the brave and courageous first responders.”