The shooter, who fatally shot and killed nine people at a light rail junction in Northern California earlier this week, had an arsenal of weapons and ammunition stowed in his home that he had set on fire as part of his planned rampage.
Samuel James Cassidy, 57, had several cans of gasoline, suspected Molotov cocktails, twelve firearms and about 22,000 rounds of various types of ammunition in his home, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Friday.
“It is clear that this was a planned event and the suspect was ready to claim as many lives as possible with his firearms if the sheriff deputies were not allowed in to stop his rampage,” the office said.
Before the shooter left his home on Wednesday morning, he set a timer or slow-burn device to set his home on fire, according to Laurie Smith, Santa Clara County’s Sheriff. At the scene, he had three 9mm semi-automatic handguns, as well as 32 high-capacity magazines loaded with extra ammunition, she said.
While officers initially found “potentially explosive precursors” in the gunman’s home and at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, they ultimately found no explosives, the bureau said.
“The suspect has been described as angry by colleagues and detectives are investigating his relationship with the VTA,” the bureau said.
“Such extreme steps”:The San Jose killer planned a railroad attack with a simple motive
Exclusive:San Jose was not alerted that the government once arrested the railroad station’s killer for terrorist books and hateful writings, DA says
In 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped Cassidy on a return trip from the Philippines, finding that he was expressing hatred for the train station where he worked. This emerges from a Department of Homeland Security memo received from the Wall Street Journal.
An official noted that, according to the memo, Cassidy had “books on terrorism, fear and manifestos … and a black memo book with lots of notes on how he hates the VTA.” When asked if he was having problems with anyone at work, Cassidy said “no” according to the memo.
Local law enforcement in the San Jose area were never informed of the memo or Cassidy’s incarceration, Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in an interview with the US TODAY. He noted that his office, along with local authorities and the gunman’s employer, may have been able to intervene and stop the attack.
“The prosecutor’s office was not notified,” Rosen said, adding that he was not aware of any agency in the area that had received the information. “I would have liked to have known that in 2016.”
A VTA spokesman responded Friday to a question about whether Cassidy had ever said or done anything to worry employees, saying the agency was reviewing all records pertaining to Cassidy.
Here’s what we know on Friday:
Gunman’s father says he was blinded by an attack
The gunman’s father said Friday he only saw his son two days before the attack and was blind to what happened.
“He came over to help his mother with her car,” 89-year-old James Cassidy told The Mercury News. “He seemed fine.”
The father told the outlet there was “no indication” of what his son was planning and added that they had not seen Samuel Cassidy as often or rarely when he complained about something.
“He never really pointed out anything was wrong at all,” James Cassidy told The Mercury News.
But his father said his son had bipolar disorder, even though it was “no excuse” for what happened. The gunman’s father does not say whether he was diagnosed with the disorder or whether he was ever treated.
Witnesses say the shooter targeted certain people and was an “outsider”.
The content of the memo is consistent with the picture law enforcement agencies have so far painted of a man who appears to have incited hatred against the people he worked with for a decade.
When Cassidy shot and killed nine other employees before he committed suicide, witnesses said he targeted certain people. Smith, the sheriff, said Cassidy told at least one person, “I’m not going to shoot you” before shooting others.
“So I imagine there was some kind of thought about who he was going to shoot,” said Smith.
“You haven’t waited”:: Officers stormed into the San Jose train station when gunfire continued, authorities say
Kirk Bertolet, a signal maintenance worker who worked in a unit separate from Cassidy, told the Associated Press that the suspect did not injure the people he encountered on the way to the second building, where further shots were fired.
“Sam made sure he killed everyone he wanted. He made sure they were dead,” Bertolet said. “I saw some of my coworkers take their last breaths and they were all gone. Seven of them were just gone.”
Bertolet called Cassidy an “outsider” and said, “He was never in the group. He wasn’t accepted by anyone. They look back and say,” Yeah, it fits. “
Who were the victims?
Nine people died in the shooting, and the victims included bus and light rail operators, mechanics, linemen and an assistant superintendent.
The victims were: 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, according to the Santa Clara County Coroner Office.
George Sandoval, operations manager of VTA light rail maintenance, said at a press conference Thursday that many of the agency’s employees have a strong connection.
“A lot of these people worked here for 20 or 30 years, so we’re becoming a family,” said Sandoval. “Our employees react to emergencies on the rails and there is a bond.”
He tried to warn his staff, then he was shot::Relatives mourn the victims of gunfire at the San Jose train station
Victims honored at vigil
About 1,000 people gathered at a vigil outside San Jose City Hall on Thursday evening as family members tearfully remembered their loved ones as heroes and role models.
Taptejdeep Singh’s brother Karman said his brother had a “lion heart”. When the shooter opened fire, Taptejdeep Singh rushed out of the security of an office to help others escape, his family witnesses said.
Annette Romo, whose husband Timothy Michael died, told the crowd, “Never leave the house without kissing your loved one because that was the last thing I got.”
A GoFundMe spokesperson said a central hub has been set up at gofundme.com/san-jose-strong to identify and review fundraising drives for the victims and their families.
The suspect has been preparing for the shooting for years, police say
Police say Cassidy had an intricate plan for the shootout. He collected weapons, read about terrorism, housed bomb-making materials, and rigged his home to get caught in an inferno when he set out to kill nine colleagues.
Before Cassidy left his house at around 5:39 a.m., he set a timer or slow-burn device to set his house on fire, said Smith, the Santa Clara County sheriff.
Authorities said they found an assortment of materials in Cassidy’s locker that appeared to make bombs – which forced a lockdown on the area and the bomb technicians to sweep the large complex.
Those who knew Cassidy said he had anger, alcohol problems, threatened workplace violence and talked for years about his hatred of his job.
Cecilia Nelms, who was married to Cassidy for about 10 years before filing for divorce in 2005, told The Mercury News that he was often angry with employees and his duties at work, despite saying she hadn’t spoken to him about anything more than a decade.
Another woman who was with Cassidy accused him of rape and sexual assault. This is evident from 2009 court documents received from The Mercury News. The documents also contain allegations that Cassidy had severe mood swings and suffered from alcohol abuse.
Featuring: John Bacon, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
Contact News Now reporter Christine Fernando at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.