In the latest bout of deadly mass shooting in the US, a transit employee killed eight people at a California train yard and took his own life later.
The dastardly shooting happened at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) site in San Jose. Police said the gunman opened fire at around 06:45 local time on Wednesday. The shocking detail is that the shooting happened during an employee meeting. The relatives of the victims said the shooter knew his victims.
The gunman was identified as 57-year-old Samuel Cassidy.
At least one survivor from the shooting, who was wounded seriously, has been hospitalized. All the people who were shot were the employees of the transit agency at the city airport.
The gunfire was going on when the police attended to the crime scene. "When our deputies went through the door, initially he was still firing rounds," Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said, according to BBC.
The police then found that the killer had taken his own life as he knew the law enforcement officers had arrived. The police clarified that they did not exchange gunfire with the gunman.
"There is a sameness to this and that numbness, I think, is something that we are all feeling," California Governor Gavin Newsom said, responding to the shocking incident in the heart of the Silicon Valley. "It begs the damn question, What the hell is going on in the United States of America? What the hell is wrong with us and when are we going to come to grips with this?" he added.
President Joe Biden was briefed of the incident, the The White House said. "What's clear, 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," White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, according to Reuters.
Who is Samuel Cassidy?
According to Reuters, Cassidy has been working with the transit agency since 2012. He had joined the agency as an "electro-mechanic," but was promoted as "substation maintainer" in 2015. The records on his employment were sourced from the nonprofit website Transportation California.
Cassidy took home a salary of $102,000, according to the reports. He also got other benefits, and an additional $20,000 in overtime pay.
He has a criminal history, and according to court documents he had divorced his spouse in 2006. He was also involved in a cade relating to domestic violence with another person and had secured restraining orders against each other in 2009.
The shooter's ex-wife threw more light into him, saying he had expressed a wish to murder his colleagues several times, though she had not taken him seriously. A neighbor described him as "lonely" and "strange".
Deputy Russell Davis, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department, said "deputies did not exchange gunfire" with the suspect.
"Preliminarily, we're going to go with the assumption it was a self inflicted gunshot."
Just before the shooting, a fire broke out at a home belonging to Cassidy, according to local media.
Authorities say they are looking into whether the suspect may have set his home on fire before embarking on the rampage.
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The Santa Clara VTA - Valley Transport Authority - operates three train lines, making up over 40 miles (65km) of rail. It also operates about 70 bus lines in the city.
Santa Clara is the largest county in California's Bay Area and is home to Silicon Valley. It encompasses several cities in Northern California including Cupertino, San Jose and Mountain View.
the rail yardIMAGE COPYRIGHTCBS
Speaking from near the crime scene, Governor Gavin Newsom condemned the "rinse and repeat" cycle of US mass shootings.
"What the hell is wrong with the United States of America?" said the Democrat. "When will we put down our arms?"
US President Joe Biden called the attack a "horrific tragedy" and ordered flags to be flown at half mast as he again urged Congress to take action on gun control.
"Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation," he said. "We can and we must do more."