SAN JOSE—Nine people were killed by gunfire and the gunman killed himself following a mass shooting early Wednesday morning at the Valley Transportation Authority yard in San Jose.
At 6:34am, the suspect, Samuel Cassidy, 57, opened fire at the VTA light rail yard in San Jose just off Highway 880 at First Street, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Russell Davis said. Authorities said Cassidy, a maintenance employee at VTA, took his own life following the rampage.
The Santa Clara Sheriff/Coroner’s Office identified the victims as: Adrian Balleza, 29, Paul Delacruz Megia, 42,Taptejdeep Singh, 36 Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35, Timothy Michael Romo, 49, Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40, Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63, and Lars Kepler Lane, 63, and Alex Ward Fritch, 49.
Davis did not specify how many others were injured, but said that many of those injuries were “major.” He added that the shooter set fire to his Angmar Court home in East San Jose prior to the shooting.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Bomb Squad was activated, Davis said, because “booby trap” explosive devices were found at the VTA yard, which is less than a block away from the Sheriff’s office. Area police and the FBI also located bomb devices, guns and ammunition at Cassidy’s home.
The attack was the deadliest mass shooting in the Bay Area since a 1993 shooting on California Street in San Francisco, which claimed nine lives, with six wounded.
VTA Board Chair Glenn Hendricks said light rail service was suspended indefinitely beginning at noon, and was replaced by bus service.
“It’s very difficult for the VTA family to wrap our heads around this,” he said. “It’s a very sad day for us.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who rushed to the scene, said “this is a horrible day for San Jose and we’re doing everything we can to make sure this never happens again.”
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office deployed its active-shooter team at the onset of the incident.
VTA employee Jim Egan said he was at his desk when the shooting unfolded.
“I suddenly heard a bunch of sirens,” he said. “I didn’t hear the shooting; it was in another part of the facility. I had just come to work when it all started. I texted my wife to let her know I was OK.”
The scene around West Hedding Street, North First Street and Younger Avenue was flooded with members of the media. Scores of news trucks with towering satellite dishes dotted the area and a helicopter circled overhead.
Santa Cruz METRO CEO/General Manager Alex Clifford said METRO sent a message of condolences and had all flags lowered to half-staff shortly after the incident.
“These are our transit brothers and sisters,” he said. “In a time like this it is not union management, it is not supervisors—we’re all transit brothers and sisters. It cuts really deep. This is really a sad time. We’re partners—we partner on Highway 17 with VTA; we would not exist if not for the relationship between VTA and Santa Cruz. All of them are special people.”
James Sandoval, general chairperson for SMART Local 23, the union representing METRO operators, said “this is transportation family—it hits right at home.”
“We are making mental health an emphasis this month, and making sure our transit workers’ health is okay especially because of the time of Covid, tension is really high,” he added. “We’re exhausted and we want them to know that help is out there and we’re here to help.”
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris both weighed in as the news circulated around the world.
“The facts are still revealing themselves but it is absolutely tragic,” said Harris, previously a senator for California and the state’s attorney general. “It’s absolutely tragic. I have family that lives in San Jose. I’ve worked for many many years with the mayor of San Jose and the police department and my prayers and my thoughts for all those families.”