SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — As investigators in San Jose unraveled the horrific timeline of a mass shooting that left nine transit employees dead and a possible motive behind the deadly rampage, stories of heroism and narrow escapes began emerging Thursday.
Authorities still have not revealed how many others were wounded. Valley Medical Center officials did confirmed that it has a male shooting victim in critical condition.READ MORE: UPDATE: San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf Hit-And-Run Victim Identified As Hotel Worker Headed Home
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At an early Thursday morning news conference, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith gave out new details surrounding the investigation.
Gunman Samuel Cassidy, who apparently took his own life, was armed with two semi-automatic handguns with 11 magazines of ammunition.
Smith said deputies had confronted Cassidy before he took his own life.
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“I know that our deputies and the officers that responded while the shooting was still happening are heroes,” she said. “They went in, the confronted the suspect and when they confronted the suspect he took his own life. I believe the officers and the deputies saved lives.”
As to a motive, Smith said investigators may never really know what triggered Cassidy’s rampage. A neighbor’s surveillance camera capture him dress in his work clothes, calmly loading a duffle into his white truck. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
A short time later, his home caught fire. Investigators were still trying to determine the cause of the blaze and how it related to the shooting.
“As far as a motive, that’s probably going to take a while to sort out if we ever can determine it,” Smith said.
She also said a bomb-sniffing dog had alerted to the smell of possible explosive in Cassidy’s locker at the facility. But no devices were found.
When asked if the victims were targeted, Smith said: “That is a possibility, but we are not certain.”
What could very well have played a role and saved lives was a drill done months ago at the transit facility.
Smith said her deputies had conducted an active shooter drill with the employees at the VTA control center and rail yard, instructing employees on what to do if they found themselves in a situation like the one that unfolded Wednesday morning.READ MORE: Suspect Sought In Robbery At El Cerrito Pharmacy
“Our team actually trained all the VTA employees on what to do in an active shooter (situation) and done an exercise specifically in that building,” she said. “They were told to run, hide or engage the suspect. I don’t know what they did. We may have some heroes also with the VTA. Some may have lost their lives protecting others.”
The family of Taptejdeep Singh say they’ve been told he died doing just that.
Co-workers told Singh’s family that he pushed one co-worker into a room to protect her from the gunman, and then frantically called other co-workers to warn them what was happening.
“He just saved her and then after that he go toward the downstairs,” said Singh’s cousin Bagga Singh. “We lost a good person, he’s a very good person.”
Singh and the names of the other nine victims were released Wednesday night. They range in age from 29 to 63 and were all VTA employees.
- Paul Delacruz Megia, 42
- Taptejdeep Singh, 42
- Adrian Balleza, 29
- Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35
- Timothy Michael Romo, 49
- Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40
- Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63
- Lars Kepler Lane, 63
- Alex Ward Fritch, 49
The announcement ended an agonizing day-long vigil by the victims’ families as they awaited word of the fate of their loved ones.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen described the scene inside the family reunification center where they had gathered.
“They’re just sitting and holding hands and crying,” Rosen said. “It’s terrible. It’s awful. It’s raw. People are learning they lost their husband, their son, their brother.”
Rochelle Hawkins, a VTA mechanic, was among those who narrowly escaped.
“I was running so fast, I just ran for my life,” she said. “I would hope everyone would just pray for the VTA family. Just pray for us.”
Police officers and Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputies responded in force after receiving multiple 911 calls of an active shooter at the light rail yard at around 6:34.m. The location is next door to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and a block from the San Jose Civic Center and county offices.MORE NEWS: House Speaker Pelosi Creating Select Committee To Investigate Jan. 6 Insurrection
Authorities said about 75-80 people were at the facility when the shooting started, right around when the shift change for VTA workers is scheduled.