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Co-workers of suspect among nine shot to death at California transit facility

co-workers-of-suspect-among-nine-shot-to-death-at-california-transit-facility
AlessandroPhoto/iStock

(SAN JOSE, Calif.) — Nine people were shot to death at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail yard in San Jose, California, on Wednesday morning, according to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

The suspect, a VTA employee, also is dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, sheriff’s spokesperson Russell Davis said.

Sources briefed on the investigation told ABC News that the suspect, identified as Samuel Cassidy, had multiple weapons.

Multiple sources told ABC News the shooting is suspected workplace violence.

VTA employees are among the victims, Davis said.

The Santa Clara County Office of the Medical Examiner-Coroner has identified the victims 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; Lars Kepler Lane, 63; and Alex Ward Fritch, 49.

Fritch died Wednesday night after being transported from the scene in critical condition in the morning.

The shooting was reported around 6:30 a.m. local time at a hub where maintenance is conducted and trains are stored. Over 40 employees were there at the time, according to San Jose police.

The sheriff’s department is next door to the VTA’s light rail yard, and the sheriff said deputies ran in while shots were fired.

“I know that it saved many lives,” Santa Clara Sheriff Laurie Smith said at a news conference.

Deputies didn’t exchange gunfire with the suspect, Davis said.

After the shooting, a police dog detected a suspicious device, Davis said, and the bomb squad began working to clear each room in the facility.

FBI San Francisco Special Agent in Charge Craig Fair said it will take a while to process the large crime scene.

A house fire noticed around the time of the shooting is believed to be linked to the suspect, sources told ABC News. The fire is being investigated as a possible arson and federal evidence response teams are headed to the house and to the VTA hub, sources said.

Local leaders noted at a news conference that VTA employees are essential workers who went to work each day during the pandemic.

VTA Board of Directors chairperson Glenn Hendricks called the shooting a “horrible tragedy.”

“We’re so sorry this event happened,” Hendricks said at a news conference. “We will do everything we can to help people get through this.”

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo told ABC News Live’s Linsey Davis that he spoke with several employees who were at the facility during the shooting.

“There were concerns about this gunman, there’s no question,” Liccardo told ABC News.

President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland have been briefed on the shooting.

The president on Wednesday evening ordered flags be lowered to half staff to honor the victims.

“There are at least eight families who will never be whole again,” Biden said in a statement. “There are children, parents and spouses who are waiting to hear whether someone they love is ever going to come home.”

The president remarked that the flag has been lowered several times recently after similar shootings in Georgia, Colorado, South Carolina and Indiana.

“Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation. We can, and we must, do more,” Biden said.

Vice President Kamala Harris called the shooting “absolutely tragic.”

“I have family that live in San Jose. I’ve worked for many, many years with the mayor of San Jose and that police department,” Harris said. “My prayers and my thoughts are with all of those families that have been affected.”

VTA said service wasn’t impacted by the shooting, but Hendricks said that light rail service is now suspended and likely will remain suspended for several days.

“We will have bus bridges in place to provide limited service while we work through this,” VTA tweeted. “The light rail yard remains an active investigation scene, limiting our ability to provide service.”

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