Suspect, at least 8 victims dead after shooting at San Jose public transit facility

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — A shooter is dead after opening fire and killing at least eight people at a Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority railyard on Wednesday morning, according to the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office.

Law enforcement sources at the scene identified the shooter to Nexstar’s KRON as 57-year-old Sam Cassidy. Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said it was “undetermined” how the shooter died.

Santa Clara County sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Russell Davis confirmed during a press conference Wednesday morning that the suspect was a VTA employee.

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) workers gather near a railyard following a shooting on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in San Jose, Calif. Santa Clara County sheriff’s spokesman said the railyard shooting left multiple people, including the shooter, dead. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) workers gather near a railyard following a shooting on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in San Jose, Calif. Santa Clara County sheriff’s spokesman said the railyard shooting left multiple people, including the shooter, dead. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Law enforcement officers respond to the scene of a shooting at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) facility on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in San Jose, Calif. Santa Clara County sheriff’s spokesman said the railyard shooting left multiple people, including the shooter, dead. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A man comforts a woman near the scene of a shooting at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) facility on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in San Jose, Calif. Santa Clara County sheriff’s spokesman said the railyard shooting left multiple people, including the shooter, dead. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Valley Transportation Authority workers cross West Hedding Street near the scene of a mass shooting in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, May 26. 2021. Gunfire erupted Wednesday at a railyard in San Jose, and a sheriff’s spokesman said multiple people were killed and wounded and that the suspect was dead. (Randy Vazquez/Bay Area News Group via AP)
Law enforcement officers respond to the scene of a shooting at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) facility on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in San Jose, Calif. Santa Clara County sheriff’s spokesman said the rail yard shooting left multiple people, including the shooter, dead. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Law enforcement officers respond to the scene of a shooting at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) facility on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in San Jose, Calif. Santa Clara County sheriff’s spokesman said the railyard shooting left multiple people, including the shooter, dead. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Valley Transportation Authority workers cross Younger Avenue near the scene of a mass shooting in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, May 26. 2021. Gunfire erupted Wednesday at a railyard in San Jose, and a sheriff’s spokesman said multiple people were killed and wounded and that the suspect was dead. (Randy Vazquez/Bay Area News Group via AP)
A woman leaves the scene of a shooting at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) facility on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in San Jose, Calif. Santa Clara County sheriff’s spokesman said the railyard shooting left multiple people, including the shooter, dead. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Law enforcement officers get gear from their trunk near the scene of a shooting in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. Gunfire erupted Wednesday at a railyard in San Jose, and a sheriff’s spokesman said multiple people were killed and wounded and that the suspect was dead. (Randy Vazquez/Bay Area News Group via AP)

The shooting took place at a light rail facility that is next door to the sheriff’s department and across a freeway from the airport. The facility is a transit control center that stores trains and has a maintenance yard.

Davis said the shooting resulted in “multiple major injuries” but did not know what type of weapon was used. He said that VTA employees were among the dead but did not release any victims’ names.

Two patients were transported to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, according to spokesperson Joy Alexiou. One person was pronounced dead upon arrival, and the other was in critical condition.

Hours after the shooting, bomb squads were searching the rail complex after receiving information about possible explosive devices inside the building, Davis said.

A fire at the suspect’s home a few miles away is also under investigation with the bomb squad, ATF and FBI at the scene, KRON reports. The blaze is believed to have started shortly before the railyard shooting.

“We are in a very dark moment,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said. “But I am heartened to see the response from the VTA family, coming together to support their co-workers, I’m grateful for the immediate response of law enforcement.”

VTA trains were already out on morning runs when the shooting occurred. Light rail service was to be suspended at noon and replaced with bus bridges, Hendricks said.

“A horrible tragedy has happened today, and our thoughts and love go out to the VTA family,” VTA Chairman Glenn Hendricks told a news conference.

Our sincerest condolences and prayers to the victims’ families and our communities during this tragic incident. Thank you to all the brave and courageous first responders.

— Anthony Mata (@SJPDChief_Mata) May 26, 2021

“These folks were heroes during COVID 19, the buses never stopped running, VTA didn’t stop running. They just kept at work, and now we’re really calling on them to be heroes a second time to survive such a terrible, terrible tragedy,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

A reunification center for employees and families has been set up.

“I’m just so in shock that something like this happened in Santa Clara County,” Mike Wasserman, a member of the board of supervisors, said. “My heart goes out the families of the eight VTA employees who lost their lives this morning.”

The VTA provides bus and light rail service to Silicon Valley and connects with several other public transit services in the region.

The Guadalupe Yard is located off of West Younger Ave, near N San Pedro St. The sheriff is asking people to stay away from the area.

KRON reporter Camila Barco said several roads are blocked off and there are multiple police vehicles, as well as the San Jose Fire Department.

Outside the scene, Michael Hawkins told The Mercury News that he was waiting for his mother, Rochelle Hawkins, who had called him from a co-worker’s phone to assure him that she was safe.

When the shooting started, “she got down with the rest of her coworkers” and dropped her cellphone, Michael Hawkins told the newspaper. Rochelle Hawkins did not see the shooter, and she was not sure how close she had been to the attacker, her son said.

At a news conference, Mayor Sam Liccardo lamented the “horrific day for our city.” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a tweet that his office was “in close contact with local law enforcement and monitoring this situation closely.”

Special agents from the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were responding to the crime scene, officials said.

This is a developing story. More details will be added as they become available. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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