California gunman who was disgruntled worker appeared to target some victims in rail yard shooting

California gunman who was disgruntled worker appeared to target some victims in rail yard shooting


A gunman who killed nine people at a California rail yard where he worked appeared to target some of the victims, a sheriff told The Associated Press on Thursday, while a Biden administration official said the shooter spoke of hating his workplace when customs officers detained him after a 2016 trip to the Philippines.Samuel Cassidy, 57, arrived at the light rail facility for the Valley Transportation Authority in San Jose around 6 a.m. Wednesday with a duffel bag filled with semi-automatic handguns and high-capacity magazines, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said.”It appears to us at this point that he said to one of the people there: ‘I’m not going to shoot you,'” Smith said. “And then he shot other people. So I imagine there was some kind of thought on who he wanted to shoot.”While there are no cameras inside the rail yard’s two buildings, Smith said footage captured him moving from one location to the next. It took deputies six minutes from the first 911 calls to find the gunman on the third floor of one of the buildings, Smith said.The gunman, who fired a total of 39 bullets, killed himself as deputies closed in on the facility serving the county of more than 1 million people in the heart of Silicon Valley. More than 100 people were there at the time, and authorities found five victims in one building and two in another, Smith said.Kirk Bertolet, 64, was just starting his shift when shots rang out. He said Thursday that the gunman worked regularly with the victims. He called them “a good bunch of blue-collar people” but said he stuck out as a loner and outsider.”I know some of those guys, they’ll keep joking with you and they’ll keep hammering you about stuff. And if you’re thin-skinned and you can’t take it … I see that is the main cause of what’s going on,” Bertolet said.Sheriff’s officials described the gunman as “a highly disgruntled VTA employee for many years,” saying that may have contributed to him targeting the workers. Documents show he had worked at the transit authority since at least 2012.The County of Santa Clara’s Office of the Medical Examiner-Coroner has identified all nine victims below:Paul Delacruz Megia, 42Taptejdeep Singh, 36Adrian Balleza, 29Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35Timothy Michael Romo, 49Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63Lars Kepler Lane, 63Alex Ward Fritch, 49Bertolet, a signal maintenance worker who worked in a separate unit from the gunman, said he is convinced the gunman targeted his victims because he didn’t hurt people he encountered on the way to the second building, where more shots were fired. “Sam made sure he killed all who he wanted. He made sure they were dead,” Bertolet said. “I watched some of my coworkers breathe their last breaths, and they were all gone. Seven of them were just gone.”After being detained by customs officers in 2016, he was found to have a memo book with notes on how he hated the Valley Transportation Authority, according to a Biden administration official who described a Department of Homeland Security memo laying out his statements. The official saw the memo and detailed its contents to the AP but was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.The Wall Street Journal first reported the memo.It doesn’t say why he was stopped by customs officers. It said he had books about “terrorism and fear and manifestos” but when he was asked whether he had issues with people at work, he said no. The memo notes that the gunman had a “minor criminal history,” citing a 1983 arrest in San Jose and charges of “misdemeanor obstruction/resisting a peace officer.”His ex-wife said he had talked about killing people at work more than a decade ago.”I never believed him, and it never happened. Until now,” a tearful Cecilia Nelms told the AP on Wednesday.She said he used to come home from work resentful and angry over what he perceived as unfair assignments.”He could dwell on things,” she said. The two were married for about 10 years until a 2005 divorce filing, and she had not been in touch with him for about 13 years, Nelms said.Sheriff’s officials said the three 9 mm handguns the gunman brought to the rail yard appear to be legal. Authorities do not yet know how he obtained them.He also had 32 high-capacity magazines, some with 12 rounds. In California, it is illegal to buy magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. However, if he obtained them before Jan. 1, 2000, he would have been allowed to have them unless he was otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms.The sheriff said authorities found explosives at the gunman’s home, where investigators believe he had set a timer or slow-burn device so that a fire would occur at the same time as the shooting. Flames were reported minutes after the first 911 calls came in from the rail facility.The attack was the 15th mass killing in the U.S. this year, all shootings that claimed at least four lives each for a total of 87 deaths, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.President Joe Biden urged Congress to act on legislation to curb gun violence, saying, “Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation. We can, and we must, do more.”Video above: Neighbors describe interactions with suspected San Jose shooter, fire at homeSeveral long-time employees were killed, many of whom worked together. “Whatever happened yesterday, it shows the character of these guys, how they tried to save others while going through that chaotic situation,” light rail superintendent Naunihal Singh said.The victims were Alex Ward Fritch, 49; Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; and Lars Kepler Lane, 63. Family and friends remembered Taptejdeep Singh as a hero. He called another transit employee to warn him about the gunman, saying he needed to get out or hide.”He told me he was with Paul, another victim, at the time,” co-worker Sukhvir Singh, who is not related to Taptejdeep Singh, said in a statement. “From what I’ve heard, he spent the last moments of his life making sure that others — in the building and elsewhere — would be able to stay safe.”Karman Singh said Thursday that his older brother had “a lion’s heart.” At an evening vigil that drew 1,000 people to City Hall, Singh said his brother “died fighting for others, and trying to save his community, his VTA community.”Annette Romo, wife of Timothy Romo, told the crowd: “I only have a few words to say: Never leave home without giving your loved one a kiss goodbye. Because that was the last I got.”___Har reported from San Francisco, Dazio from Los Angeles and Long from Washington. Associated Press journalists Jocelyn Gecker and Daisy Nguyen in San Francisco, Martha Mendoza in Santa Cruz and John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

A gunman who killed nine people at a California rail yard where he worked appeared to target some of the victims, a sheriff told The Associated Press on Thursday, while a Biden administration official said the shooter spoke of hating his workplace when customs officers detained him after a 2016 trip to the Philippines.

Samuel Cassidy, 57, arrived at the light rail facility for the Valley Transportation Authority in San Jose around 6 a.m. Wednesday with a duffel bag filled with semi-automatic handguns and high-capacity magazines, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said.

“It appears to us at this point that he said to one of the people there: ‘I’m not going to shoot you,'” Smith said. “And then he shot other people. So I imagine there was some kind of thought on who he wanted to shoot.”

While there are no cameras inside the rail yard’s two buildings, Smith said footage captured him moving from one location to the next. It took deputies six minutes from the first 911 calls to find the gunman on the third floor of one of the buildings, Smith said.

The gunman, who fired a total of 39 bullets, killed himself as deputies closed in on the facility serving the county of more than 1 million people in the heart of Silicon Valley. More than 100 people were there at the time, and authorities found five victims in one building and two in another, Smith said.

Kirk Bertolet, 64, was just starting his shift when shots rang out. He said Thursday that the gunman worked regularly with the victims. He called them “a good bunch of blue-collar people” but said he stuck out as a loner and outsider.

“I know some of those guys, they’ll keep joking with you and they’ll keep hammering you about stuff. And if you’re thin-skinned and you can’t take it … I see that is the main cause of what’s going on,” Bertolet said.

Sheriff’s officials described the gunman as “a highly disgruntled VTA employee for many years,” saying that may have contributed to him targeting the workers. Documents show he had worked at the transit authority since at least 2012.

The County of Santa Clara’s Office of the Medical Examiner-Coroner has identified all nine victims below:

  • 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
  • Lars Kepler Lane, 63
  • Alex Ward Fritch, 49

Bertolet, a signal maintenance worker who worked in a separate unit from the gunman, said he is convinced the gunman targeted his victims because he didn’t hurt people he encountered on the way to the second building, where more shots were fired.

“Sam made sure he killed all who he wanted. He made sure they were dead,” Bertolet said. “I watched some of my coworkers breathe their last breaths, and they were all gone. Seven of them were just gone.”

After being detained by customs officers in 2016, he was found to have a memo book with notes on how he hated the Valley Transportation Authority, according to a Biden administration official who described a Department of Homeland Security memo laying out his statements. The official saw the memo and detailed its contents to the AP but was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the memo.

It doesn’t say why he was stopped by customs officers. It said he had books about “terrorism and fear and manifestos” but when he was asked whether he had issues with people at work, he said no. The memo notes that the gunman had a “minor criminal history,” citing a 1983 arrest in San Jose and charges of “misdemeanor obstruction/resisting a peace officer.”

His ex-wife said he had talked about killing people at work more than a decade ago.

“I never believed him, and it never happened. Until now,” a tearful Cecilia Nelms told the AP on Wednesday.

She said he used to come home from work resentful and angry over what he perceived as unfair assignments.

“He could dwell on things,” she said. The two were married for about 10 years until a 2005 divorce filing, and she had not been in touch with him for about 13 years, Nelms said.

Sheriff’s officials said the three 9 mm handguns the gunman brought to the rail yard appear to be legal. Authorities do not yet know how he obtained them.

He also had 32 high-capacity magazines, some with 12 rounds. In California, it is illegal to buy magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. However, if he obtained them before Jan. 1, 2000, he would have been allowed to have them unless he was otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms.

The sheriff said authorities found explosives at the gunman’s home, where investigators believe he had set a timer or slow-burn device so that a fire would occur at the same time as the shooting. Flames were reported minutes after the first 911 calls came in from the rail facility.

The attack was the 15th mass killing in the U.S. this year, all shootings that claimed at least four lives each for a total of 87 deaths, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

President Joe Biden urged Congress to act on legislation to curb gun violence, saying, “Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation. We can, and we must, do more.”

Video above: Neighbors describe interactions with suspected San Jose shooter, fire at home

Several long-time employees were killed, many of whom worked together.

“Whatever happened yesterday, it shows the character of these guys, how they tried to save others while going through that chaotic situation,” light rail superintendent Naunihal Singh said.

The victims were Alex Ward Fritch, 49; Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; and Lars Kepler Lane, 63.

Family and friends remembered Taptejdeep Singh as a hero. He called another transit employee to warn him about the gunman, saying he needed to get out or hide.

“He told me he was with Paul, another victim, at the time,” co-worker Sukhvir Singh, who is not related to Taptejdeep Singh, said in a statement. “From what I’ve heard, he spent the last moments of his life making sure that others — in the building and elsewhere — would be able to stay safe.”

Karman Singh said Thursday that his older brother had “a lion’s heart.”

At an evening vigil that drew 1,000 people to City Hall, Singh said his brother “died fighting for others, and trying to save his community, his VTA community.”

Annette Romo, wife of Timothy Romo, told the crowd: “I only have a few words to say: Never leave home without giving your loved one a kiss goodbye. Because that was the last I got.”

___

Har reported from San Francisco, Dazio from Los Angeles and Long from Washington. Associated Press journalists Jocelyn Gecker and Daisy Nguyen in San Francisco, Martha Mendoza in Santa Cruz and John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.


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