As the city of San Jose prepares a vigil for the nine victims of a mass shooting, new details have emerged about the moments before their deaths.
New reports have indicated that the shooter may have targeted victims between the ages of 29 and 63. They were found in two Valley Transit Authority buildings on Wednesday.
“It seems to us at this point that he said to one of the people there, ‘I’m not going to shoot you,'” Santa Clara Sheriff Laurie Smith told the Associated Press on Thursday. “And then he shot other people. So I can imagine that there was some kind of consideration as to who he wanted to shoot. ”
A witness said the shooter “had a list of people he intended to kill yesterday”.
“He shot some people, left another person alive, and then he went around and shot everyone again,” said Kirk Bertolet, 64, who has worked for VTA for 12 years and was on duty Wednesday while it was filming.
Bertolet said the shooter, identified as Samuel Cassidy, 57, was then “coolly awakened by some people coming from the other building … then he went into that building and found his targets there. He killed the people he wanted to kill. “
Smith told the Today show that Cassidy, who had been with the VTA for at least eight years, was “very deliberate, very quick” during the killing spree.
Officials initially said he was found with two semi-automatic handguns and 32 magazines loaded, but later updated that number to three guns. Smith told the AP that he fired 39 shots and that the 9mm handguns he had appeared to be legal, even though the high-capacity 12-round magazines are illegal in California.
Cassidy’s ex-wife Cecilia Nelms said he talked about killing people at work more than a decade ago.
“I never believed him and it never happened. Until now, “she told the AP after the attack.
According to a discussion message that circulated at the Department of Homeland Security after the shooting, Cassidy was searched and questioned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on her return from the Philippines in 2016, the Wall Street Journal first reported. The officers found materials in his pockets containing writings about his hatred of his employer.
DHS officials on Thursday declined to comment on information gathered prior to the shooting. It is unclear whether the information gathered during the 2016 search was shared with other federal or local authorities at the time.
Wednesday’s violence, described as a workplace quarrel, shook the city as the community mourned the victims and demanded answers to what happened.
The victims who died on the scene were identified 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. One victim, Alex Ward Fritch, 49, died at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
The authorities investigated the timing of the attack. The first emergency calls about the shooting came in at 6:34 a.m. on Wednesday. A fire was reported three minutes later at Cassidy’s home on Angmar Court, 8 miles away.
Smith said officials believe he acted alone and “triggered some kind of device.” [to set fire to his house] at some point, probably at the same time as he was shot, ”although she noted that thinking could change as the investigation progressed.
Deputy Russell Davis said Thursday that investigators were working to obtain a search warrant for Cassidy’s home, which was badly damaged by the fire.
“We’re going to use all we can and gather all the evidence we can,” he said.
Bomb-sniffing dogs in the yard also found bomb-making materials, including fuses and “the precursors of an explosive,” said Smith, in what was believed to be Cassidy’s locker.
Russell said officials are working to pinpoint a motive.
“Based on recent developments in the investigation, we can say that the suspect has been a highly disgruntled VTA employee for many years, which may have contributed to his targeting VTA employees,” he said.
John Courtney, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union local 265 – one of four unions representing VTA workers – said on Facebook that he was shocked and deeply saddened by the news. He added that the union was working to provide support and support to the victims’ families and others involved in the shooting.
Courtney also described stressful working conditions at the agency. In a press release prior to the shooting, Courtney said there was tension over the reduction in social distancing guidelines and raised concerns that workers would not have received hazard or hero compensation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bertolet said the VTA was made up of “workers” who were often tough on one another.
He said he believed Cassidy was caught for treatment in the workplace.
“He killed his leader and the other people in his chain of command,” he said. “I guess whatever conflict and hostility he had towards these people, he took it out on them yesterday.”
During a press conference on Thursday, VTA board members and officials expressed shock and sadness.
“Words are not enough to justify the pain we are going through,” said the VTA light rail transport company. Naunihal Singh. “I’m upset. I’m sad. Words fail me. At the same time, attempts are made to find reasons for it.”
Singh also said it showed the character of his staff that they tried to save others during the attack. One victim’s family, Taptejdeep Singh, said he helped colleagues hide before they were shot.
San Jose City Councilor Raul Peralez spoke as both a VTA board member and a friend of one of the victims, Rudometkin.
“Personally, my heart is broken,” he said. “And to be honest, it will take a lot of time – not for me, but for all of us – to be able to heal.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said on Twitter that a vigil for the victims will be held in Town Hall Square at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
“This is a moment for us to come together and grieve,” he said.
Caltrain will offer free transportation to the vigil, Councilor Dev Davis said.
Cassidy was known to neighbors in his working-class neighborhood as a “very weird, very quiet” guy, said Ramon Crescini, 64, a retired general contractor who lives several doors down.
He was divorced more than a decade ago. His ex-wife, Nelms, told Mercury News that he was moody and often complained that colleagues and family members had easier lives than him.
In April 2009, Cassidy was granted an injunction against a 45-year-old former girlfriend who The Times did not name for being the victim of alleged sexual assault.
In an interview with KRON-TV earlier on Thursday, Smith said Cassidy took her own life when MPs confronted him. Officials said Wednesday they had not exchanged shots with him.
“He’s a coward. He did a cowardly act, ”said Smith.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom said there was “an equality and numbness in these incidents” after meeting with family members of the victims. He asked when the violence would end.
“What the hell is going on in the United States of America?” Newsom asked. “What the hell is wrong with us? … When will we literally and figuratively lay down our arms? “
Speaking to the show Today, Smith expressed a similar disbelief.
“At the moment we don’t know what in the world could cause someone to take such an action,” she said.
The Times authors, Maura Dolan and Maria La Ganga, contributed to this report.