VTA shooting

Gunman kills 8 at California light rail yard before turning gun on himself

Eight people were killed early Wednesday morning when a Valley Transportation Authority employee opened fire at the VTA rail yard in San Jose.

The gunman also died at the scene of the shooting, the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office said, NBC Bay Area reported.

“This is a horrific day for our city, and it’s a tragic day for the VTA family,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said. “Our heart pains for the families and the co-workers because we know that so many are feeling deeply this loss of their loved ones and their friends.”

Calls reporting gunfire at the VTA yard began coming in just after 6:30 a.m., officials said, and sheriff’s deputies and San Jose police quickly rushed to the scene. Sheriff Laurie Smith said that deputies were entering the building while gunshots were still ringing out, The Mercury News reported. But, she said, deputies did not fire at the suspect.

About 90 minutes later, the sheriff’s office said the gunman was dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot.

VTA light rail service was suspended and bus bridges were set up to accommodate commuters.

The gunman was identified by multiple police sources as Samuel Cassidy, 57, a VTA maintenance worker. Officials have not discussed any possible motive or said what type of weapons was used. A neighbor’s surveillance camera reportedly showed him leaving home just after 5:30 a.m., carrying a large black duffel bag.

Police and FBI agents responded to Cassidy’s home in southeast San Jose, where a fire erupted before the shooting started. San Jose Police Department bomb squad technicians went to Cassidy’s home and scoured the VTA yard, where bomb dogs reportedly alerted to explosive devices in the building, Smith said.

Eight people were found dead at the facility, including the gunman, officials said. Two people were transported to a hospital in critical condition. One of those died, and the other remains hospitalized.

California Gov Gavin Newsom came to the crime scene Wednesday afternoon and met with members of the victims’ families.

“There’s a sameness to this, and a numbness I think is something we’re all feeling,” Newsom said. “It begs the damn question, ‘what the hell is going on in the United States of America?’”

While authorities have not commented on a motive, Cassidy’s ex-wife told the Mercury News he had a temper during their 10 years of marriage and would frequently complain that co-workers got easier assignments and was angry that his father had paid for his sister’s education. The ex-wife, Cecilia Nelms, said she had not seen him in 13 years.

An ex-girlfriend, who dated him briefly when they met on Match.com shortly after his divorce, told NBC she was “scared of him.” Cassidy apparently filed for a domestic violence restraining order against her in 2009, alleging harassment, and she responded accusing him of rape and alcohol fueled rage. The ex-girlfriend denied the allegations against her. A judge granted the restraining order, but the two later agreed to settle their case.

A neighbor who lives across the street from the suspect told the Mercury News that he was “lonely” and “strange.”

“I’d say hello and he’d just look at me without saying anything,” said Doug Suh. “One day I was backing out of his driveway and he yelled at me, ‘Don’t even go on my driveway!’ After that, I never talked to him again.”

Working Partnerships USA set up a fund to help victims of the shooting through their Union Community Resources program.

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[Featured image: Law enforcement officers respond to the scene of a shooting at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) facility (AP Photo/Noah Berger) Inset: Samuel Cassidy/Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority]