A source has confirmed to KPIX that Samuel Cassidy, the VTA employee who killed nine people at a San Jose rail yard Wednesday morning, had been facing a disciplinary hearing Wednesday at the VTA over his conduct in the past.
Earlier Thursday, Federal authorities confirmed that Cassidy had been detained by U.S. Customs agents five years ago because he had writings about terrorism and hating his workplace.
Authorities identified the attacker as 57-year-old Valley Transportation Authority employee and San Jose resident Samuel Cassidy.
SPECIAL SECTION: San Jose VTA Shooting
A federal official confirms to CBS News that Cassidy had been detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection after returning to the States from the Philippines in 2016 due to the writings found in his possession. The Wall Street Journal first reported this.
According to the New York Times, in addition to a notebook that Cassidy had written in detailing how much he hated the VTA, officials found books on the subjects of terrorism and manifestoes.
HOW TO HELP THE VICTIMS: Donate to the VTA shooting victims’ fund at Working Partnerships USA Cassidy reportedly told agents he had no problems with people at work. The information regarding the 2016 incident is contained in a DHS memo concerning the encounter.
Cassidy fatally shot nine coworkers at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) rail yard before killing himself as law enforcement rushed the shooting scene.
Thursday afternoon, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office issued an update on their investigation into the deadly incident that made note of Cassidy’s feelings towards his workplace.
“Based on recent developments in the investigation we can say that the suspect has been a highly disgruntled VTA employee for many years, which may have contributed to why he targeted VTA employees,” the sheriff’s update read.
KPIX obtained a brief clip of surveillance video from the VTA light rail yard that showed Cassidy casually walking between the two buildings where he gunned down nine of his coworkers Wednesday morning.
“Right now, we think he fired about 39 rounds,” said Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith.
Smith told KPIX 5 that Cassidy picked out his victims–who would live and who would die.
“To one person he said, ‘I’m not going to shoot you.’ And then he started shooting others,” Smith explained.
The gunman had three semiautomatic handguns and 32 loaded high-capacity 12 round magazines, according to Smith. She had earlier incorrectly stated during a Thursday morning press conference that he only had two handguns and 11 high-capacity magazines.
A locker at the rail yard believed to be the gunman’s contained “materials for bombs, detonator cords, the precursors to an explosive,” Smith said.
“When our deputies went through the door, initially he was still firing rounds. When our deputy saw him, he took his life,” Smith told reporters.
Smith said the handguns he had appear to be legal but his high-capacity magazines are prohibited in California.
Additionally, Smith said the shooter appeared to to have a timer or device to set his home on fire 13 miles away from the VTA scene.
Jeff Harp, former assistant special agent in charge of the San Francisco FBI office says a concern is booby traps.
“This guy worked for VTA for some time so he knows all the nooks and crannies where police may look but not suspect and that’s where they’ve gotta be real careful,” Harp said.
Harp says everything that happened Wednesday — from the shooting to the fire at Cassidy’s south San Jose home — happened with this fact in mind: “He was certainly aware that VTA was in close proximity to the sheriff’s department. He knew that. He’d worked there for years. He knew it was going to happen quick.”
Cassidy’s ex-wife Cecilia Nelms told KPIX that while Cassidy had talked about harming co-workers, she never imagined anything like this.
UPDATE: VTA Officials Memorialize Employees Killed In Massacre
She said Cassidy also had anger issues but never physically hurt her. “I’m in shock, I’m very confused,” she said.
Nelms recalled how uncomfortable he was around other people. “Not a very friendly person, kept things to himself,” said Nelms.
Nelms said talk of killing his co-workers happened about a decade ago. “I never believed him, and it never happened. Until now,” a tearful Nelms told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Samuel Cassidy (Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office)
The number of people fatally shot by the gunman rose from eight after the Santa Clara County’s medical examiner-coroner late Wednesday confirmed the death of Alex Ward Fritch, 49. He had been wounded and hospitalized in critical condition after the attack.
The sheriff’s office is next door to VTA’s Guadalupe rail yard at 101 W. Younger Ave., which serves the county of more than 1 million people in the heart of the Silicon Valley.
READ MORE: Who Is Samuel Cassidy, Gunman In San Jose Mass Shooting At VTA Rail Yard?
It was the 15th mass killing in the nation this year, all of them shootings that have claimed at least four lives each for a total of 87 deaths, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.
At the White House, President Joe Biden ordered flags to be flown at half-staff and urged Congress to act on legislation to curb gun violence.
“Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation. We can, and we must, do more,” Biden said in a statement.
Gov. Gavin Newsom visited the site and then spoke emotionally about the country’s latest mass killing.
“There’s a numbness some of us are feeling about this. There’s a sameness to this,” he said. “It begs the damn question of what the hell is going on in the United States of America?”
Members of a union representing VTA workers were meeting when the shooting began, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said, but it’s not clear the meeting was related to the attack.
The shooting took place in two buildings and killed employees who had been bus and light rail operators, mechanics, linemen and an assistant superintendent over the course of their careers. One had worked for the agency since 1999.
Eight victims identified earlier 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, and Lars Kepler Lane, 63.
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.
“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.
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.”
The Russian hackers thought to be behind the catastrophic SolarWinds attack last year have launched another major cyberattack, Microsoft warned three weeks before President Joe Biden is to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Microsoft said in a blog post Thursday that the hacking group, known as Nobelium, had targeted over 150 organizations worldwide in the last week, including government agencies, think tanks, consultants and nongovernmental organizations.
They sent phishing emails — spoof messages designed to trick people into handing over sensitive information or downloading harmful software — to more than 3,000 email accounts, the tech giant said.
At least 25% of the targeted organizations are involved in international development, humanitarian and human rights work, said Tom Burt, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of customer security and trust.
“These attacks appear to be a continuation of multiple efforts by Nobelium to target government agencies involved in foreign policy as part of intelligence gathering efforts,” Burt said.
Organizations in at least 24 countries were targeted, Microsoft said, with the U.S. receiving the largest share of attacks.
The breach has been discovered three weeks before the Biden-Putin summit in Geneva on June 16.
It also comes a month after the U.S. government explicitly said that the SolarWinds hack was carried out by Russia’s SVR, a successor to the foreign spying operations of the Soviet KGB.
The Kremlin said Friday it does not have any information on the cyberattack and that Microsoft needs to answer more questions, including how the attack is linked to Russia, Reuters reported. The Kremlin did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
There was nothing in public records to indicate Cassidy ever got in trouble with the law. He received a traffic ticket in 2019 and sheriff’s officials said they were still investigating his background.
But in court documents filed in 2009, an ex-girlfriend described him as volatile and violent, with major mood swings because of bipolar disorder that became worse when he drank heavily.
Several times while he was drunk, Cassidy forced himself on her sexually despite her refusals, pinning her arms with his body weight, the woman alleged in a sworn statement filed after Cassidy sought a restraining order against her. The documents were obtained by The San Francisco Chronicle.
The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they have been sexually assaulted.
Cassidy had worked for Valley Transportation Authority since at least 2012, according to the public payroll and pension database Transparent California, first as a mechanic from 2012 to 2014, then as someone who maintained substations.
Officials also were investigating a house fire that broke out shortly before the shooting, Davis said. Public records show Cassidy owned the two-story home where firefighters responded after being notified by a passerby. Law enforcement officers cordoned off the area near the home and went in and out Wednesday.
The gunman probably “set some kind of a device to go off at a certain time probably to coincide with the shooting,” the sheriff told “Today.”
Wednesday’s attack was the deadliest shooting in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1993, when a gunman attacked law offices in San Francisco’s Financial District, killing eight people before taking his own life.
It also was Santa Clara County’s second mass shooting in less than two years. A gunman killed three people and then himself at a popular garlic festival in Gilroy in July 2019.
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