A transit employee shot eight co-workers to death and was himself killed at a commuter railyard in San Jose, California, authorities said, in the latest burst of deadly mass gun violence to grip the United States.
- The gunman and all eight victims were employees of the transit agency situated near the city’s airport, officials said
- A bomb squad was searching the yard after at least one explosive device was found, and authorities also responded to a fire at the home of the suspect, though no-one was found inside
- US President Joe Biden was briefed on the shooting, and his staff continued to monitor the situation, the White House said
Authorities did not immediately offer many details or a possible motive for the shooting, which unfolded about 6:30am on Wednesday (local time) at a light railyard of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA).
A bomb squad was searching the yard after at least one explosive device was found, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy Russell Davis said at a news conference.
Mr Davis did not say how the assailant died or whether police officers called to the scene had fired their weapons.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said authorities also had responded to a fire at the home of the suspect, though no-one was found inside.
The gunman and all eight victims were employees of the transit agency situated near the city’s airport, officials said.
Authorities did not give the gunman’s name or age, but the San Jose Mercury News and other media outlets identified him as Samuel Cassidy, 57, a maintenance worker at the yard.
Cassidy had worked for the transit authority since at least 2012, when he was listed as an “electro-mechanic” who promoted to “substation maintainer” in 2015, according to records posted by the nonprofit website Transportation California.
“A horrible tragedy has happened today and our thoughts and love go out to the VTA family,” Glenn Hendricks, chairman of the VTA board, said at the news conference.
‘These are, and were, essential employees’
He said the shooting took place in a section of the railyard where workers performed maintenance on vehicles, and was not in the facility’s operations and control centre.
San Jose, a city of about a million residents, lies at the heart of Silicon Valley, a global technology hub and home to some of America’s biggest high-tech companies.
“These are, and were, essential workers,” Mr Liccardo said of the victims.
“These VTA employees helped us get through this horrific pandemic. They were showing up every day 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.”
He said he was aware of news reports of a fire at the house of the man the authorities believed to be the shooter.
Multiple fire department, police and bomb squad vehicles were still parked outside the suspect’s house, along a cul-de-sac in south-eastern 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.
Arson investigators along with agents of the FBI and US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also present.
Gun violence escalates following year-long lull
US President Joe Biden was briefed on the shooting, and his staff continued to monitor the situation while keeping in close contact with local officials to offer any assistance needed, the White House said.
“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.
Mass gun violence has escalated considerably following a year-long lull as the United States emerged from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring.
Wednesday’s incident was the latest of at least eight deadly US mass shootings in the past three months, including a string of attacks at Atlanta-area day spas in mid-March and a rampage days later that left 10 people dead at a Colorado supermarket.
Last month, a former employee of an Indianapolis FedEx centre shot eight workers to death and then took his own life.