A mass shooting in San Jose has claimed multiple lives and caused multiple injuries in a Wednesday morning tragedy the details of which are still trickling out.
The shooting occurred around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, when police were called to the Valley Transportation Authority's light-rail yard on the 100 block of West Younger Avenue at San Pedro Street, in downtown San Jose. The identity of the shooter and the number of victims are still not known, but authorities have said that the shooter is dead.
As the Mercury News reports, about 100 VTA workers, mostly men, were seen being escorted from the Sheriff's Office to a large county auditorium nearby in the wake of the shooting, which was being used as a family reunification center.
One worker, speaking to the Mercury News, said, "The whole crew is gone, the whole shift is gone. It's horrible."
As the Chronicle reports, via witnesses, the shooter committed suicide at the scene. VTA employees represent at least some, if not all, of the dead.
It appears likely that the shooter was a VTA employee, however that has not been confirmed. VTA spokesperson Brandi Childress tells ABC 7 that the shooter would either have had to break in to the rail yard, or would have had to have been an employee to gain access to the area where the shooting took place.
The VTA announced that all rail service would be temporarily suspended at noon. "The light rail yard remains an active investigation scene, limiting our ability to provide service," the agency tweeted.
"This is a horrific day for our city, and it's a tragic day for the VTA family," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo at a morning press conference. "Our heart pains for the families and the co-workers because we know that so many are feeling deeply this loss of their loved ones and their friends."
Speaking on MSNBC this morning, Fremont Rep. Ro Khanna said, "I was sick to my stomach seeing this happen at the VTA. These are public servants, they help our public transportation, not just in San Jose but in all the surrounding cities in Silicon Valley, run and operate. And they do so not with high pay, they do so everyday with diligence. And it is just heartbreaking."
Khanna added, "At some point we as a country need to figure out how we deal with this."
Liccardo said that a suspicious house fire that broke out Wednesday morning could be connected to the shooting. As KRON4 reports, San Jose firefighters responded to the scene of the fire moments after the shooting began, at 6:36 a.m. The fire was on the 1100 block of Angmar Court, about a ten-minute drive from the rail yard. The Chronicle reports that the house in question belongs to a VTA employee.
We'll update this post as more information becomes available.
Update: KRON4 is reporting via a source that the gunman was 57-year-old Sam Cassidy, a VTA employee. Other news outlets have confirmed this, and the house on fire reportedly belonged to Cassidy.
Update 2: The Times and others are reporting that a bomb squad was on the scene, and the shooting investigation was on hold while a possible explosive device was being cleared from the area.
Update 3: A third incident, a fire at a plywood and lumber yard that broke out around the same time as the house fire, is being possibly attributed to Cassidy as well.
An ex-girlfriend from 2009 gave a sworn statement in response to a restraining order he filed against her alleging that Cassidy had repeatedly sexually assaulted her, was bipolar, and suffered from violent "mood swings."
Cassidy's ex-wife of 10 years, Cecilia Nelms, who divorced him in 2009, tells the Chronicle that he was a "very quiet" person who didn’t have real friends. And she says that while he "could be mad and probably mean," she "never thought he would do this."
Update 5/27: A ninth victim has died, and all nine victims have now been identified. They are 36-year-old Taptejdeep Singh, 40-year-old Michael Rudometkin, 49-year-old Alex Ward Fritch, 42-year-old Paul Delacruz Megia, 29-year-old Adrian Balleza, 35-year-old Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 49-year-old Timothy Romo, 63-year-old Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, and 63-year-old Lars Lane.
And Nelms, Cassidy's ex-wife, gave more comments to the Associated Press suggesting that he had harbored resentment toward coworkers at the VTA for many years, and had talked about killing them more than a decade ago.
If you are in crisis, text "BAY" to 741741 for free, 24/7, confidential crisis support from Crisis Text Line. And if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, you or they should call the San Francisco Suicide Prevention crisis line at 415-781-0500.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.
Photo: Google Street View
This post has been updated to reflect that the fatality count has gone up to nine.