Employee who shot eight dead during union meeting at light rail yard in San Jose before killing himself
Cops find explosive devices in the building and suspect’s own home on fire
The gunman – identified as Samuel Cassidy – opened fire a little before 7am local time at the yard
The victims include Valley Transportation Authority employees
The Santa Clara County Coroner’s Office released the names of victims – 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.
Cassidy, who it is understood set fire to his own home before setting off to his work place on Wednesday morning also died during the incident, after he turned the gun on himself
One ex-girlfriend claimed Cassidy complained about the stress of his job and his boss at the VTA light rail yard
She said he suffered from bipolar disorder and was ‘not mentally stable’
At least nine people are dead following a mass shooting at a California light rail yard, the county’s sheriff’s office said Wednesday.
The gunman opened fire a little before 7am local time during a shift change at the yard run by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority near the city’s main airport.
The eight victims were Valley Transportation Authority employees. The shooter also died in the shooting.
The Santa Clara County Coroner’s Office released the names of the eight slain workers Wednesday night. They victims were listed 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.
The attacker was identified as 57-year-old VTA employee and San Jose resident Samuel Cassidy, who also died at the scene at the Guadalupe rail yard at W. Younger Avenue.
Cassidy, a maintenance worker is understood to have turned the gun on himself – Officials confirmed deputies did not exchange gunfire. He is also understood to have set fire to his own home before carrying out the rampage. Multiple weapons and ammunition are said to have been found inside his home. A bomb squad was searching the yard after ‘at least one’ explosive device was found, the Sheriff office said.
Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said victims were shot across two buildings, during a shift change with both day and night workers present. She said officers ran into the scene as shots were being fired. The motive for the shooting has not been released.
Earlier KTVU reported that the shooting occurred during a meeting of union members. Seven victims died at the scene. Two patients were transported to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, where one person was pronounced dead upon arrival, and another was listed in critical condition.
The gunman’s father James Cassidy, 88, apologized for his son’s actions: ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know what he might have been going through.’
The older Cassidy told The Daily Beast his son ‘seemed completely himself’ before the shooting, adding: ‘He didn’t talk about his job or politics. I just found out he was dead and his house on fire and all that a minute ago.’
While police are currently trying to find a motive for the crime, an ex-girlfriend has spoken out saying Cassidy suffered from bipolar disorder and was ‘not mentally stable’. The ex – who has not been named – told NBC Bay Area that she and Cassidy dated for six months back in 2009 after meeting on Match.com.
She said Cassidy turned on her when she turned down his marriage proposal, telling him she didn’t want to rush into a wedding: ‘I was scared… I turned him down and he turned totally different,’ she stated. ‘He was angry, screaming, [he stole] my car.’
She added that Cassidy said his job at VTA was ‘stressful and that he ‘complained about his boss’.
Meanwhile, The San Francisco Chronicle reports that an ex-girlfriend of Cassidy’s filed court documents against him back in 2009, accusing him of repeatedly trying to pressure her into having anal sex and of raping her once in 2008.
It is unclear whether this ex – who has also not been named – was the one who spoke with NBC Bay Area.
In the court documents, the ex further alleged Cassidy ‘had major mood swings as a result of bipolar disorder, which worsened when he drank large amounts of alcohol’.
‘He also played several mind games which he seems to enjoy,’ she stated in the documents.
On Tuesday, first reports of gunfire at the VTA light rail yard came at around 6:30am local time. The crime scene is the light rail transit control center that stores trains and has a maintenance yard, located next door to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department and across a freeway from the airport.
The Valley Transportation Authority provides bus, light rail and other transit services throughout Santa Clara County, the most populated county in the Bay Area, authorities said.
One Valley Transportation Authority employee’s mother told KTVU that the shooting occurred during a union meeting. Glenn Hendricks, the chairman of the VTA board, said the shooting took place in a part of the yard where workers do maintenance on vehicles, and was not in the yard’s operations and control center
Following reports the incident took place during a meeting of union members Amalgamated Transit Union International President John A. Costa said in statement: ‘We are shocked and deeply saddened by the multiple fatalities and injuries at a shooting today at a VTA rail facility.
‘Our hearts and prayers are with our sisters, brothers, and their families at ATU Local 265 in San Jose.’
Local branch, ATU Local 265, tweeted: ‘Pray.’
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo tweeted: ‘Our hearts are pained for the families of those we have lost in this horrific shooting. In the @VTA family, we mourn our lost coworkers and pray for the recovery of those being treated.’
‘These are, and were, essential workers,’ Mayor Liccardo later said at a news conference.
‘These VTA employees helped us get through this horrific pandemic. They were showing up everyday to operate light rail and buses to ensure people could still go about their lives in the middle of the challenge of the pandemic. And they were taking risks with their own lives in doing so.’
It was reported that there was a fire at the house of the man the authorities believed to be the shooter. The home sustained damage, but no one was found inside the home. Multiple fire department, police and bomb squad vehicles were still parked outside the suspect’s house, along a cul-de-sac in southeastern San Jose, hours after the shooting.
An explosives-detecting robot sat in the street near the home while two bomb squad technicians entered the ranch-style house.
Special agents from the FBI and the ATF joined police and officers from the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Dept. in responding to the shooting crime scene, officials said.
The VTA operates three rail lines; it also runs 70 bus lines in the area. Cassidy had worked for the VTA since at least 2012, as a mechanic on a reported salary of $102,000. Local television station KTVU-TV reported that Cassidy had been married for 10 years and divorced in 2019, citing an interview with his ex-wife, who reportedly told the station she had little contact with him over the past decade.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a tweet that his office was ‘in close contact with local law enforcement and monitoring this situation closely.’ He later spoke at a press conference at the scene.
‘Our hearts go out to the victims and their families,’ White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.
The White House said: ‘The President has been briefed on the mass shooting and the tragic loss of life in San Jose by his Homeland Security Advisor, Liz Sherwood-Randall. The White House continues to monitor the situation and remains in close contact with local officials to offer any assistance as needed.’
The gunman set his house on fire before he drove to a Valley Transportation Authority union meeting and began shooting, law enforcement sources said. Officials said the victims were shot in two different buildings.
During the media briefing, Santa Clara DA Jeff Rosen said the gunman had multiple guns in his possession at the scene of the shooting but did not clarify how many he had used.
Early indications are that the shooting was related to a workplace issue. sources said.
At Cassidy’s beige stucco three-bedroom home on Angmar Court in San Jose, investigators discovered firearms and a large amount of ammunition.
Cassidy reportedly, got married in 1994 and divorced in 2005. In April 2009, he was granted a restraining order against a former 45-year-old girlfriend.
Cassidy had claimed his ex grabbed him in 2008, threatened him and promised to get filed a declaration alleging that during the couple’s year-long relationship, Cassidy sexually assaulted her and “exhibited major mood swings as a result of bipolar disorder.”
She denied ever having harmed him, noting that she was 5 feet 4 and he was 6 feet 1 and 200 pounds, and claimed that “several times during the relationship he became intoxicated, enraged and forced himself on me sexually.”