CNN

A 9th victim of the San Jose mass shooting has died. Now investigators are focused on why it happened

May 27, 2021, 7:09 AM
SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 26: HERO Tent President Kiana Simmons places a candle at a vigil organized by he...
SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 26: HERO Tent President Kiana Simmons places a candle at a vigil organized by her group following the mass shooting at the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light-rail yard, outside City Hall on May 26, 2021 in San Jose, California. A VTA employee opened fire at the yard, with preliminary reports indicating nine people dead including the gunman. (Photo by Philip Pacheco/Getty Images)
(Photo by Philip Pacheco/Getty Images)

    (CNN) — The nine victims of a mass shooting in San Jose on Wednesday have been identified as investigators begin the process of figuring out why such a fierce burst of violence happened during the early morning hours at a light rail yard.

Eight of the victims, who ranged from ages 29 to 63, were identified Wednesday by the Santa Clara County office of the Medical Examiner-Coroner as Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; and Lars Kepler Lane, 63.

A ninth victim, Alex Ward Fritch, age 49, was transported to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in critical condition and died Wednesday evening, the coroner’s office said.

They will be honored Thursday night at an event at the San Jose City Hall Plaza.

Among the victims were the gunman’s coworkers at the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). The VTA is a public transit service that operates bus and light rail services in the Santa Clara Valley and employs about 2,000 workers.

Wednesday’s incident was the 232nd shooting in which at least four people were shot in the US so far this year, according to a tally by the Gun Violence Archive, as another community has been left to make sense of violence that struck close to home.

The killings in San Jose are the latest in a spate of shootings that have struck essential workers in the US, who have tried to stay safe during the Covid-19 pandemic yet were murdered in mass acts of violence.

And much like other previous instances, investigators are looking into the gunman’s motive, according to Deputy Russell Davis of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

One thing that has become clear is that “the victims and all the colleagues knew the shooter well,” Mayor Sam Liccardo told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Police responded to reports of shots fired

The shooting began just after 6:30 a.m. PT when several 911 calls reported shots fired near a VTA control center, a hub that stores light rail trains and a maintenance yard, Davis said

It happened as employees from the midnight shift and the day shift overlapped, Davis said.

The shooting occurred in the VTA rail yard — not the operations control center — at a time when light rail was starting up for the day, VTA Board Chairperson Glenn Hendricks said. The yard is where the VTA vehicles are maintained and dispatched.

Multiple law enforcement agencies and fire department personnel responded using their “active shooter protocol,” Davis said.

Davis said law enforcement officers didn’t exchange gunfire with the gunman and investigators believe he took his own life.

“I know for sure that when the suspect knew the law enforcement was there, he took his own life, our deputies were right there at that time,” Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith. The deputies were there quickly because the sheriff’s office is next door, she added.

Smith said deputies and San Jose police officers ran into a building as the shooting was continuing “and I know that it saved many lives.”

Smith said the victims worked together and were there in the morning together.

The gunman has been identified as Sam Cassidy, a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation confirmed to CNN.

Six of the victims remained in the building as of Wednesday evening as the crime scene was processed, Smith told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

The body of the suspect was moved from where he shot himself in an attempt to administer medical aid and was on a street Wednesday evening, Smith said.

Multiple guns were used in Wednesday’s deadly mass shooting in San Jose, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said at a news conference.

Rosen did not specify the types of weapons or whether they were obtained legally, but said they were not considered to be untraceable “ghost guns.”

“I know that for many of the families, and some of whom I’ve talked to, when they said goodbye to their spouse this morning, their husband, they didn’t mean goodbye forever. They meant goodbye until dinnertime, and I’m just so sorry,” Rosen said.

Shooter had anger issues, others say

Cassidy, the identified gunman, had a strained relationship with an ex-girlfriend, court documents show, which revealed troubling allegations she made in a filing in 2009 as she responded to a restraining order he filed against her.

The woman says she dated Cassidy for approximately one year in what she said became an off-and-on-again relationship after about six months.

She described Cassidy as having mood swings that were “exacerbated when (Cassidy) consumed large quantities of alcohol,” she said in the court document, and she alleged he had bi-polar disorder.

She said he enjoyed playing mind games with her, according to the court document.

“Several times during the relationship he became intoxicated, enraged and forced himself on me sexually,” said the former girlfriend, who CNN is not naming and is reaching out to for comment.

Cassidy’s ex-wife, Cecilia Nelms, told CNN affiliate the Bay Area News Group he resented his work. Nelms was married to Cassidy for about 10 years until the couple filed for divorce in 2005. She has not been in touch with her ex-husband for about 13 years, according to the outlet.

He often spoke angrily about his co-workers and bosses, and at times directed his anger at her, Nelms told the outlet.

When the two were married, he “resented what he saw as unfair work assignments” and “would rant about his job when he got home.”

Surveillance video shows a man leaving the suspect’s house

Surveillance video obtained by CNN shows a man leaving the home of the shooting suspect on Wednesday morning with a duffle bag.

A neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said the video was captured around 5:40 a.m. and showed Cassidy leaving the house in a truck. The neighbor described Cassidy as a “quiet” and “strange” man.

CNN has reached out to the sheriff’s office to see if investigators have seen and are aware of this video.

The neighbor later noticed a fire broke out at Cassidy’s home around 6:30 a.m.

Liccardo said in an interview with CNN affiliate KGO that a fire was reported at the home of the gunman. No one was found inside the home, he said.

Firefighters responded at a home in the 1100 block of Angmar Court in San Jose at 6:36 a.m. local time, according to tweets from the San Jose Fire Department. The time was just minutes after police were called about the shooting at the VTA facility, about 8 miles away.

It took firefighters about an hour to extinguish the two-alarm fire, which caused heavy damage and left the structure uninhabitable, the fire department said.

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A 9th victim of the San Jose mass shooting has died. Now investigators are focused on why it happened