SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — An employee opened fire Wednesday at a California rail yard, killing nine people before taking his own life as law enforcement rushed in, authorities said, marking the latest attack in a year that has seen a sharp increase in mass killings as the nation emerges from coronavirus restrictions.
The shooting took place around 6:30 a.m. in two buildings at a light rail facility for the Valley Transportation Authority, which provides bus, light rail and other transit services throughout Santa Clara County, the most populated county in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“When our deputies went through the door, initially he was still firing rounds. When our deputy saw him, he took his life,” Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith told reporters. Deputies “were going through hallways saying, ‘Sheriff’s office!’ He knew at that time that his time for firing shots was over.”
The victims, many of them longtime employees of the transit agency, were identified by the Santa Clara County coroner’s office Wednesday night as Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; Lars Kepler Lane, 63; and Alex Ward Fritch, 49.
Their jobs included bus and light rail operators, mechanics, linemen and assistant superintendent. One had worked for the transit authority since 1999.
Singh had worked as a light rail train driver for eight or nine years and had a wife, two small children and many family members, said his cousin, Bagga Singh.
Lane was three days shy of turning 64 years old and leaves behind a wife and three children. He was a grandfather and one of seven brothers and sisters, according to his brother, Edward Lane.
FOX40 also learned that two of the victims of the mass shooting in San Jose may have connections to the city of Tracy and may have last lived there.
“We heard that he chose the people to shoot, but I don’t know why they choose him because he has nothing to do with him,” he said. He said he was told that the gunman targeted certain people and let others go.
San Jose City Councilman Raul Peralez said Rudometkin was a close friend. “There are no words to describe the heartache we are feeling right now, especially for his family,” he wrote on Facebook. “Eight families are feeling this same sense of loss tonight and our entire community is mourning as well.”
A vigil for the victims will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. at San Jose City Hall Plaza.
The attacker was identified as 57-year-old Sam Cassidy, according to two law enforcement officials. Investigators offered no immediate word on a possible motive.