The nine men who were fatally shot Wednesday morning in one of the worst mass shootings the Bay Area has ever experienced have now been publicly identified. As their families and friends grieve their loss, the rest of the country is grappling with yet another workplace shooting by a heavily armed individual who probably should not have owned guns.
One coworker at the Valley Transportation Authority who survived the shooting, Kirk Bertolet, has spoken with ABC 7 about a possible motive behind Samuel Cassidy's horrific act. According to Bertolet, the killings were targeted, and Cassidy clearly passed some coworkers by, letting them live.
"I was shocked to find out who it was myself," Bertolet tells ABC 7. "I've had a good relationship with him, been cordial. I do know that he had a specific agenda and was targeting certain people, he walked by people, let other people live as he gunned down other people."
Bertolet added that this is likely a story about how VTA employees treat each other, and how the agency treats its employees.
"We sometimes are brutal to one another," Bertolet said. "I know certain shops just have a certain culture about them, it's a union trade deal and it's just union hardcore blue collar workers and that's how things go."
Cassidy's ex-wife, Cecilia Nelms, after telling news outlets on Wednesday that she never expected such violence from Cassidy, though he could be "mean" and withdrawn, gave some more revealing quotes in a subsequent interview with the Associated Press.
She said that Cassidy had talked in anger about killing coworkers over a decade ago, when they were married. "He could dwell on things," she said.
And Nelms explained that Cassidy used to complain about being given "unfair" assignments at work.
What's clear is that Cassidy arrived at work around 6:30 a.m. with the clear intent to cause mass casualties. He brought three semi-automatic pistols with him and a total of 11 high-capacity magazines — enough to take 132 shots.
As the New York Times notes, the nine deaths in San Jose come on the heels of the March shootings at Atlanta area massage parlors, the mass shooting weeks later at a Boulder supermarket, and the April shooting at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis which claimed eight lives.
Below, the nine San Jose victims and what we know about them so far via the Times and ABC 7. Several of them had the same job title as Cassidy, substation maintainer, which involves electrical inspection and maintenance of the VTA's power lines.
Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63
One of the two oldest victims, Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, had worked for the VTA for 20 years, doing the same type of work as Cassidy, as a substation maintainer. The two had worked together for well over a decade if not two. Known as "Abdi" to his family and friends, he lived in Castro Valley, and his son's girlfriend, Megan Staker, describes him to the Chronicle saying, "He brought so much joy and laughter to our lives... He was stolen from us."
Adrian Balleza, 29
The youngest victim, Adrian Balleza was both a maintenance worker and light rail operator, according to the VTA, per the New York Times. He had worked for the agency since 2014, when he started as a bus driver. His wife, Heather Balleza, posted a message to social media saying that she was "heartbroken" Adrian wouldn't be alive to watch their two-year-old son grow up, and that he had looked forward to taking him fishing.
"The world needs more people like my husband, not one less," she wrote.
Alex Ward Fritch, 49
Fritch also worked as a substation maintainer, and he had worked at the VTA for nine years. His wife of 20 years, Tara Fritch, tells KTVU that he was "an optimistic, passionate, dreamer who loved his family with all his heart." She said he was the love of her life, and that they had planned to renew their vows in Hawaii this September. The two share two teenage sons, and Fritch also had a 30-year-old daughter, who along with other family and friends were able to say goodbye to Fritch at Valley Medical Center on Wednesday night. Fritch had been alive after the shooting but passed away Wednesday night.
Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35
Hernandez had worked for the VTA since 2012, starting as a transit mechanic and later becoming an electro-mechanic. He more recently worked as a substation maintainer, alongside Cassidy.
Lars Lane, 63
Lane had worked at the VTA for 20 years, since 2001. Per KCRA, he began there an electro-mechanic, and later became an overhead line worker. Lane was one of the two eldest victims in the shooting, both age 63.
Paul Delacruz Megia, 42
Paul Megia had worked at the VTA for 20 years, starting as a bus operator trainee and working his way up to superintendent-service management. He lived in Tracy, and the Times reports that he left home at 4:30 a.m. every weekday to get to work on time. He lived in Tracy with his father and his three children, whom he would call each morning before they left for school.
Megia's father tells the Times that Megia had immigrated with the family from the Philippines when he was a toddler. A childhood friend, Monica Lennon, wrote on Facebook that Megia had a "special twinkle in [his] eyes whenever [he] talked," and he was always telling "dorky jokes."
Timothy Romo, 49
Romo had worked at the VTA for over 22 years and was an overhead line worker and power foreman. His neighbor in Tracy, Keith Baldwin, says he came to the reunification center in San Jose ahead of Romo's wife and family, saying, "I was hoping to see him walking through here." Romo and his wife were reportedly planning a vacation later this year to visit their son.
Michael Rudometkin, 40
Rudometkin had worked at the VTA for 18 years, starting as a transit mechanic, and then being promoted to electro-mechanic and overhead line worker. San Jose City Councilmember Raul Peralez said on Facebook that Rudometkin was a dear friend and golf companion. "My family and I have lost a long time great friend and there are no words to describe the heartache we are feeling right now, especially for his family."
Taptejdeep Singh, 36
Mr. Singh has been described by multiple witnesses as a hero, helping coworkers hide as the shooting began. He helped at least one woman hide in the VTA control room. Singh's borther, Karman Singh, said in a Thursday statement to the press, "Even in these moments of chaos, Taptejdeep was living by the values of Sikhi: living in service and protection of others."
Singh moved to the United States from India in 2005, and his death is being mourned by the larger Sikh community in the U.S. after several other Sikh people were gunned down in the FedEx shooting last month.
Taptejdeep Singh leaves behind a wife and two young children, and also had a side career as a real estate agent.