San Jose shooter talked about killing colleagues for years, ex-wife says
Calm before the slaughter: San Jose killer seen quietly leaving home he set on fire before rail yard carnage
Ninth victim of San Jose mass shooting dies: officials
Nine victims of San Jose mass shooting identified
The San Jose gunman who slaughtered nine rail-yard coworkers before killing himself was heavily armed with two semi-automatic handguns and 11 loaded magazines, authorities said Thursday.
Samuel James Cassidy, 57, entered his workplace at the Valley Transportation Authority light-rail facility early Wednesday and started shooting, killing people in two separate buildings, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith told NBC’s “Today” show.
“On him at the time were two semiautomatic handguns, and he also had 11 loaded magazines,” Smith said, adding it was unclear how many shots Cassidy fired during his morning rampage. “We still are processing the scene, but I know to be able to reload a semiautomatic handgun is very quick.”
Smith said investigators believe Cassidy went from “building to building” gunning down his coworkers. It’s unclear whether he was targeting specific colleagues, the sheriff said.
“I think that will come up in the investigation, but we’re not certain right now,” Smith said during the nearly 5-minute interview.
However, a VTA worker who witnessed the violence believes Cassidy did not fire indiscriminately.
“I do know that he had a specific agenda and was targeting certain people, he walked by people, let other people live as he gunned down other people,” Kirk Bertolet, a light rail signal maintainer who has worked for the VTA for 12 years, told KGO.
In addition to the handguns, investigators working with K-9s discovered found “materials for bombs” and detonator cords inside a locker at the rail yard believed to be Cassidy’s, Smith said.
“Our dogs alerted on probably what is his locker and in it was materials for bombs, detonator cords, the precursors to an explosive,” Smith said. “And I think they also found at least rounds at the house, too.”
A sheriff’s office spokesman had said Wednesday that authorities found a number of “explosive devices” inside the facility.
Meanwhile, a fire broke out at Cassidy’s San Jose home at roughly the same time that he took his own life as deputies closed in, Smith said.
“So, he must have had some way to set it, or have someone else do it,” the sheriff said, before adding that there’s no evidence the gunman had an accomplice.
“What we’re operating under now – but I’m not sure that this isn’t going to change – is that he set some kind of a device to go off at a certain time, probably to coincide with the shooting,” Smith said.
Deputies got to the mass shooting scene in mere moments, but Cassidy was calculated and appeared to have a plan, Smith said.
“I think he was very deliberate, very fast,” the sheriff continued. “He knew where employees would be. We were there just within a few minutes.”
Smith said investigators are still working to determine a possible motive in what marked the 15th mass shooting nationwide thus far in 2021, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.
A total of 87 people have been killed in mass shootings this year.
“We don’t have that information,” Smith said of Cassidy’s motive. “Now obviously we’re looking into that, but what in the world could possibly prompt someone to take this kind of action? We don’t know at this point.”
Detectives were still at the scene Thursday processing evidence, sheriff officials tweeted early Thursday.
Cassidy’s ex-wife, meanwhile, told The Associated Press Wednesday that he had previously talked about killing people at work more than a decade ago during their marriage.
“I never believed him, and it never happened,” Cecilia Nelms said. “Until now.”
Nelms, whose marriage to Cassidy ended in 2005, said her former spouse “could dwell on things,” adding that she hadn’t spoken to him in 13 years.
A vigil for the nine victims has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the San Jose City Hall plaza, The Mercury News reported.
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