The death of a San Jose rail transit worker overnight makes Wednesday’s massacre at a train yard in California city the deadliest mass shooting in San Francisco Bay Area history.
More details emerged on Thursday about the horrific shooting that claimed the lives of ten people, including the gunman.
Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputies identified the shooter at the Valley Transportation Authority light rail facility as Samuel Cassidy, 57, a longtime facility maintenance worker. Cassidy’s ex-wife said she had talked about killing people at work more than a decade ago.
Cassidy shot nine of her co-workers: bus and light rail operators, mechanics, linemen and an assistant superintendent. One victim had worked for the agency since 1999.
The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victims as Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36 years old; Adrian Balleza, 29; José Dejesús Hernández III, 35 years old; Timothy Michael Romo, 49 years old; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40 years old; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63, and Lars Kepler Lane, 63. A ninth victim, Alex Ward Fritch, 49, was transported to the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in critical condition and died Wednesday night, the coroner’s office said.
Singh had worked as a light rail driver for eight or nine years and had a wife, two young children and many family members, said his cousin, Bagga Singh.
“We hear that he chose people to shoot, but I don’t know why they chose him because it has nothing to do with him,” he said.
Dozens of other employees were able to flee the building unscathed, according to other news reports.
The death toll exceeds that of the next worst mass shooting in the region, the 1993 massacre at a San Francisco skyscraper that killed eight people in addition to the gunman. It was the second mass shooting in Santa Clara County in less than two years. A gunman killed three people and then himself at a popular garlic festival in Gilroy in July 2019.
The shooting started around 6.30 a.m. local time. Smith said investigators, including teams from the FBI and the Office of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), are still searching the scene for a motive.
“What could prompt someone to take this kind of action? We don’t know at this time, ”Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said in an interview with the Today Show.
Cassidy was “very deliberate” as she made her way between the facility’s buildings, firing a pair of semi-automatic pistols and carrying 11 magazines of ammunition, Smith said. It was not immediately clear if Cassidy had obtained the weapons legally.
Law enforcement officers search bomb-making materials discovered in Cassidy’s work locker. Authorities believe Cassidy may have placed a detonator in her home, programmed to go off with the shots, Smith added in an interview with KRON TV. Cassidy’s home, several miles from the scene of the shooting, caught fire when the shooting began, Smith said. Law enforcement officials are also observing another fire that started in a nearby lumberyard at the same time.
Wednesday’s shooting was the 15th mass murder in the nation this year, all shootings that have claimed at least four lives each for a total of 86 deaths, according to a database compiled by the Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.
At the White House, Joe Biden ordered flags to be flown at half mast and urged Congress to act on legislation to curb gun violence.
“Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation. We can, and must, do more, ”Biden said in a statement.
California Governor Gavin Newsom visited the site and then spoke with emotion about the latest mass killing in the country.
“There is a numbness that some of us feel from this. There is a similarity in this, ”he said. “It raises the damn question of what the hell is happening in the United States of America.”
Meanwhile, Cassidy’s ex-wife said she had talked about killing people at work more than a decade ago.
“I never believed him and it never happened. Until now, ”Cecilia Nelms told the Associated Press through tears.
Nelms said Cassidy used to come home from work resentful and angry about what she perceived as unfair assignments. “He could think of things,” he said. The two were married for about 10 years until a divorce petition was filed in 2005, and Nelms said he hadn’t been in contact with Cassidy for about 13 years.
In court documents, a former girlfriend described Cassidy as volatile and violent, with severe mood swings due to bipolar disorder that worsened when she drank heavily.
Several times while drunk, Cassidy sexually forced her despite her denials, holding her arms down with the weight of her body, the woman alleged in a 2009 affidavit filed after Cassidy filed for a restraining order against her. The documents were obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Cassidy had worked for the Valley Transportation Authority since at least 2012, according to the public payroll and pension database Transparent California, first as a mechanic from 2012 to 2014 and then in substation maintenance.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism