Odessa, TX – Seven people were murdered and 22 more were wounded when a gunman opened fire on random citizens during a pursuit on Saturday afternoon.
Three Texas law enforcement officers who were shot during the gunman’s rampage remained hospitalized in stable condition on Sunday evening, The New York Times reported.
The mass shooting occurred after Texas state troopers attempted to stop a vehicle for failing to use a turn signal on Interstate 20 near the Midland airport at approximately 3:13 p.m.
According to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), the 36-year-old gunman began firing at the troopers through the rear window of his gold-colored car before he even brought the vehicle to a stop, The New York Times reported.
One of the troopers was wounded by the gunfire, according to the Associated Press.
The suspect sped off down the interstate towards Odessa, firing his rifle at random citizens as he barreled through the 15-mile stretch between Midland and Odessa.
Odessa resident Daniel Munoz, 28, said he was heading to a bar to meet up with a friend when he spotted the driver of an approaching vehicle holding a rifle, according to the Associated Press.
“This is my street instincts: When a car is approaching you and you see a gun of any type, just get down,” Munoz said. “Luckily, I got down…Sure enough, I hear the shots go off. He let off at least three shots on me.”
Munoz said he was treated and released at a local hospital.
Meanwhile, Dr. Nathaniel Ott was working as a medial director at an Odessa emergency care center when he heard volleys of gunfire, the Associated Press reported.
He ran outside and found a woman sitting the driver’s seat of a vehicle with a gunshot wound to her arm.
The doctor and a paramedic were tending to the victim when the gunman circled back around.
“The shooter drove within 30 feet of us and drove up that road,” Ott told the Associated Press on Sunday. “The shooter was driving. It was insane. He was just everywhere.”
The attacker hijacked a mail truck at one point, after murdering 29-year-old mail carrier Mary Granados, and made his way over to the Cinergy Movie Theater, the Associated Press reported.
Officers managed to disable the mail truck by ramming it with a marked SUV, at which point the gunman opened fire on them yet again.
An Odessa police officer and a Midland police officer were both struck by the gunman’s bullets.
Police returned fire, fatally shooting the attacker.
“In the midst of a man driving down the highway shooting at people, local law enforcement and state troopers pursued him and stopped him from possibly going into a crowded movie theater and having another event of mass violence,” Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Christopher Combs said, according to the Associated Press.
The seven victims murdered in the attack ranged in age from 15 to 57, The New York Times reported.
Granados’ twin sister, Rosie Granados, said that they were looking forward to celebrating their upcoming 30th birthdays together, NBC News reported.
Rosie said she was on the phone with her sister when the shooting happened, according to The Washington Post.
Granados screamed for help, but Rosie didn’t immediately understand what had occurred.
“I just wanted to help her, and I couldn’t. I thought she had got bit by a dog or something,” she said, according to The Washington Post. “I tried calling her name, and she wouldn’t answer.”
Rosie knew Granados’ mail route, and immediately went to find her.
“I did my best to go help her,” Rosie told CBS News through tears. “But I couldn’t get there in time.”
“He could have taken the car without having to kill her,” she said. “He didn’t have to take my sister.”
Bari Arco said that her husband of 20 years, 56-year-old Rodolfo Arco, was killed by a bullet to the head as he was coming home from work, NBC News reported.
The couple has three daughters, ages three, six, and 23.
Edwin Peregrino, 25, was visiting his parents at their Odessa home when he heard gunfire outside, according to The Washington Post.
He ran outside as the gunman sped by, spraying the neighborhood with bullets.
Peregrino was struck and killed by one of the rounds.
“You could always count on him for anything,” his sister, Eritizi told The Washington Post. “He would always help my parents and his siblings. I knew I could always rely on him and call on him.”
Odessa High School student Leilah Hernandez, 15, was also among the victims murdered during the mass shooting.
Her 18-year-old brother, Nathan, was wounded, and remains hospitalized in an intensive care unit.
Leilah and Nathan were walking out of a local car dealership after he purchased a new truck he had been saving for when the shooter sped by, their grandmother, Nora Leyva told The Washington Post.
Nathan tried to shield her with his body, and was shot in the arm.
A second bullet hit Leilah in the left shoulder, and she died of blood loss before the ambulance could transport her to the hospital.
“Your sister did not make it,” first responders told Nathan he was being rushed to the hospital, according to Leyva.
Joseph Griffith, a 40-year-old former math teacher, was sitting at a stop light with his wife and two children when he was gunned down, his sister, Carla Byrne, told The Washington Post.
“This maniac pulled up next to him and shot him, took away his life, murdered my baby brother. Like nothing,” Byrne said. “We are so broken.”
Army veteran Kameron Brown was fatally shot as he was sitting in his vehicle near Ratliff Stadium, HuffPost reported.
Brown worked for Standard Safety & Supply, a fire protection and first-aid service company based in Odessa, according to USA Today.
“We are deeply saddened to confirm that a member of our team died tragically as a victim of the senseless and horrifying shootings that occurred in and around Odessa on Saturday,” the company said in a statement. “We ask that the privacy of our team member and his family be respected during this most difficult time.”
CBS News identified the seventh victim as Raul Garcia, but details regarding his murder have not been released.
Twenty-two victims were wounded in the mass shooting, including 17-month-old Anderson Davis, who was struck in the face and chest with shrapnel, according to a fundraising page established to help pay for her medical expenses.
Bullet fragments knocked out her front teeth and tore a hole in her lower lip.
Restaurant employee Junior Bejarano said he had just finished cleaning a table when he heard gunfire outside the business, The New York Times reported.
“It was chaos in a matter of seconds,” he said. “People were screaming, flipping chairs, dropping plates.”
Bejarano went outside, and saw vehicles riddled with bullet holes.
He and his coworkers ran towards a screaming woman, and found the toddler covered in blood inside a vehicle, The New York Times reported.
“She was conscious, but she was just covered in blood,” Bejarano told the paper. “It was horrible to see something like that.”
Anderson was released from a Lubbock hospital on Sunday afternoon, and is expected to undergo surgery on Monday to remove shrapnel from her chest, The New York Times reported.
It is unclear which hospitals the nearly two dozen victims were transport to, but at least 10 victims remained hospitalized at the Medical Center Health System in Odessa on Sunday evening.
Seven were listed in fair condition, two in serious condition, and one in critical condition, The New York Times reported.
The wounded Odessa officer has been listed in stable condition.
Texas State Trooper Chuck Pryor was shot in the face during the attack, according to his fundraising campaign page.
He has been listed in serious-but-stable condition.
“A lot more rest and recovery will be needed, along with prayers!” an update read on Sunday. “But overall he is doing very well, all things considered.”
Midland Police Officer Zach Owens was shot multiple times in the hand and arm during the attack, The New York Times reported.
His most severe injuries were caused by glass shards that embedded in his eye, according to a fundraising page established to help the wounded officer during his recovery.
“He has a fixator to left index and middle finger. Both knuckles were destroyed by bullet entry to left hand. Right arm has a radial head fracture, it’s in a sling and is put together now. He will have a wound vac on it,” an update on his fundraising page read on Sunday.
“Arteries and blood supply to both arms are good…He may have loss of some nerves,” the update continued. “Arteries did fine. Tendons were damaged to right arm and left fingers. But he’s ok.”
Agent Combs said that the mass shooting was not connected to domestic or international terrorism, The New York Times reported.
The gunman had been fired from his job at a trucking company earlier in the day, but investigators stressed that they are still working to establish a clear motive for the attack.
“There are no definite answers as to motive or reasons at this point, but we are fairly certain that the subject did act alone,” Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said.
The gunman was previously arrested for misdemeanor evading arrest and criminal trespass in 2001, but the charges were waived per a deferred prosecution agreement after he completed two years of probation, according to the Associated Press.
Investigators have identified at least 15 crime scenes connected to the attacks, The New York Times reported.
“This is a different type of active shooter that we were involved with, because he was mobile, and that creates some very special type of issues,” Chief Gerke noted.
Federal agents executed a search warrant at the gunman’s Ector County home on Sunday afternoon, The New York Times reported.
His neighbor, Rocio Martinez, described the attacker as a “loner,” who enjoyed firing guns outside his home.
“Although I feel bad about the situation, I feel at ease knowing that he was killed,” Martinez told the paper. “That tells me the threat has been removed, and my family is safe again.”