San Jose, CA – The ex-wife of the gunman who murdered nine of his fellow Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) employees in a workplace mass shooting Wednesday morning said he had talked about carrying out such an attack more than 10 years ago.
The victims who died in the attack have been identified by the Santa Clara County Office of the Medical Examiner-Coroner as Lars Kepler Lane, 63, Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63, Michael Rudometkin, 40, Timothy Romo, 49, Jose Dejesus Hernandez, 35, Adrian Balleza, 29, Taptejdeep Singh, 36, Paul Delacruz Megia, 42, and Alex Ward Fritch, 49, the Associated Press reported.
Another victim remains in critical condition at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, according to hospital spokesperson Joy Alexiou.
Police identified the shooter as 57-year-old VTA employee Samuel Cassidy.
“When our deputies went through the door, initially he was still firing rounds,” Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said during a press conference, according to the Associated Press. “When our deputy saw him, he took his life.”
Police have not released a possible motive for the attack, but the gunman’s ex-wife, Cecilia Nelms, said Cassidy had talked about killing people at his workplace years earlier, the Associated Press reported.
“I never believed him, and it never happened,” Nelms said. “Until now.”
She said she and Cassidy were married for about a decade before they divorced in 2005 and that they haven’t spoken in the past 13 years, the Associated Press reported.
When they were together, would often come home from work angry and resentful, dwelling on what he believed were unfair job assignments, she said.
The gunman worked for the VTA since at least 2012, holding positions as a mechanic and as a worker maintaining substations, the Associated Press reported.
The attack occurred at the VTA control center yard located at 101 West Younger Avenue, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) Public Information Officer Deputy Davis told reporters during several updates on Wednesday.
Approximately 80 VTA employees were at the facility for a union meeting when the attack occurred, San Jose City Councilman Raul Peralez told KABC.
The Santa Clara County Communication Center received multiple 911 calls about shots being fired at the facility beginning at 6:34 a.m., Deputy Davis said.
Multiple law enforcement jurisdictions responded to the scene for what Deputy Davis described as an “active shooter” incident.
“Deputies responded and learned there were multiple victims who were shot,” Deputy Davis told reporters.
The attack took place in two separate VTA buildings, according to the Associated Press.
“[Cassidy] went from building to building,” killing his coworkers, Sheriff Smith said, according to NBC News. “He was very deliberate. Very fast.”
The shooter was armed with two semiautomatic handguns and was carrying 11 loaded magazines, police said.
Deputy Davis said the sheriff’s office initiated its “active shooter protocol” and worked to extract victims from the scene.
Sheriff Smith said Cassidy fatally shot himself when deputies located him.
“I know for sure that when the suspect knew that law enforcement was there, he took his own life,” the sheriff noted, according to NBC News. “The deputy sheriffs … the officers from San Jose PD ran into the building when shots were being fired and I know that it saved many lives.”
Police said a fire was ignited at the shooter’s two-story home prior to the attack at the VTA 10 miles away, NBC News reported.
Firefighters responded to the scene and found the residence engulfed in flames.
They said they smelled an accelerant when they arrived, NBC News reported.
NEW: Heavy police presence at the site of a house fire in San Jose. Which would seem unusual except that the house that burned belongs to a VTA employee who some have suggested is this morning’s mass shooter. @mercnews pic.twitter.com/VnI9qG3Ktv
— Robert Salonga (@robertsalonga) May 26, 2021
Investigators said they also believe Cassidy had more ammunition inside the house.
Firefighters doused the flames and law enforcement officers were seen going in and out of the residence throughout the day on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
.@SanJosePD Bomb Squad getting geared up here at Angmar Court in San Jose. @SJFD has been on scene as well as the suspected shooter is believed to have set his house on fire before killing 7 at a VTA facility in San Jose. Details: https://t.co/TXZaJlO7nb pic.twitter.com/WpQ1Y5tadp
— Dustin Dorsey (@DustinABC7) May 26, 2021
Investigators also received information about possible explosive devices inside the VTA building and responded by “clearing out every room and every crevice” to ensure first responders’ safety on the scene, Deputy Davis said.
Sheriff Smith said explosive-detecting K-9s alerted on the possible explosives.
The SCSO later confirmed investigators recovered “several possible suspicious devices” at the scene, as well as “precursors to an explosive” located inside the gunman’s locker, NBC News reported.