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Disgruntled gunman kept 22,000 rounds of ammunition, guns and gasoline in home

Read more at www.sfchronicle.com

Amid a hoarder-like interior, police found 22,000 rounds of ammunition, 12 guns and other weapons in the home of the gunman in the San Jose rail-yard massacre, offering insight into the killer even as questions about one of California’s deadliest mass shootings continued to pile up.

How did a long-time disgruntled employee walk onto his work site and kill nine people Wednesday? At one point, security videos show, he strolled across the light-rail yard from one building to another to continue the shooting spree.

Were there warning signs? Did the shooter choose his victims as witnesses believe? How did he acquire the semi-automatic pistols and multiple, high-capacity clips that could have killed dozens.

“I think we would all like to know more about what warning signs could’ve been spotted,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “These are important lessons for us as we consider what steps we need to take to prevent these kinds of horrible incidents from happening again. Clearly, some of this involved how we can better intervene with mental health resources at the right time. And some of this involves how we can better regulate guns in our society.”

In the coming days and weeks, the ongoing investigation into the mass shooting at the Valley Transportation Authority in San Jose on Wednesday morning will likely answer some of the questions, offering insight into yet another mass shooting: what went wrong, what went right.

In hindsight, the gunman, Samuel Cassidy, appeared to be a prime candidate for a mass shooting: He had a lot of firepower and a history of hatred.

In his home, investigators found multiple cans of gasoline, suspected Molotov cocktails, the 12 guns and thousands of rounds of various types of ammunition.

His ex-wife and ex-girlfriend both reported he had anger issues, violent mood swings, and voiced hatred of his employer. His father said he was bi-polar, although he hadn’t displayed signs of impending violence days prior to the incident when he visited his parents, according to the Mercury News.



In 2016, he was reportedly detained by federal customs officials after a trip to the Philippines and was found carrying a notebook that contained negative thoughts about the VTA, as well as a book about terrorism, according to the Wall Street Journal. At the time, he denied harboring ill will toward colleagues.

“We are learning that he was a very unhappy employee at VTA who seemed to be very isolated from other employees, but we all need to learn more,” Liccardo said.

Investigators continued to comb the shooting scene and Cassidy’s home for answers Friday, at one point safely deactivating a suspicious bundle of wires and batteries found in the attic of his house nine miles from the VTA yard.

Inside the residence, investigators had to sift through a hoarder-like environment.

“It was very cluttered, lots of materials blocking passageways and entrance ways,” San Jose Police Department spokesperson Steve Aponte said at a Friday afternoon media briefing.

Aponte declined to answer questions about whether other explosive materials were found inside, or whether the fire and suspicious device found Friday were designed to injure bystanders or confuse law enforcement around the time of the shooting. Officials believe Cassidy set the fire that destroyed his home.

While a motive is yet to be determined, he acted alone and he planned to inflict significant harm, officials said Friday.

“Based on current evidence obtained by Sheriff’s Office detectives at the VTA yard and the suspect’s residence, it is clear this was a planned event and the suspect was prepared to use his firearms to take as many lives as he possibly could had the Sheriff’s deputies not made entry to stop his rampage,” according to a statement.

A substation maintainer at the VTA and an employee since 2001, Cassidy was scheduled to report for a regular workday Wednesday. NBC Bay Area reported that he had a meeting that day to address questions about his behavior, including recent racist comments.

Officials said they were “reviewing all VTA records that pertain to Mr. Cassidy” to determine whether any employees reported feeling fearful or uneasy around him.

The current union contract does not include explicit language for suspending or firing an employee for harassment or aggressive behavior toward coworkers, though similar actions toward customers or the public could result in such serious discipline.

It is believed his union president was on site when Cassidy opened fire. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 265 officials have not responded to requests for comment or issued statements.

While many questions remain unanswered, officials said that what they’ve learned from the now decades of mass shootings likely resulted in lives saved this time.

Local emergency responders used a specific active shooter protocol to immediately move into buildings amid ongoing gunfire, rather than wait for the shooting to stop, said San Jose Battalion Chief Shawn Tacklind.

It was the first time it was used in a real-life scenario, officials said.

Amid the first calls of a shooter, 25 firefighters responded to the scene, a number that increased to 60 as reports of victims poured in.

The firefighters put on bulletproof vests and helmets, joining dozens of officers and deputies at the scene, and formed a “rescue task force,” Tacklind said.

“We used to wait for the cops go in and clear the whole building, but now we’ve kinda flipped the coin where we go in with the officers as they clear the building,” Tacklind said. “Our goal is to get in there as quickly and safely as possible to increase somebody’s chances of survival.”

Following active shooter training led by the Sheriff’s Office, deputies and police officers streamed onto the site together in six teams, fanning out across the property to hunt down the shooter.

From there, the teams are to “isolate, capture, and neutralize – if needed — the suspect,” said Jim Cannan, one of two SWAT team lieutenants at the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

Officials believe Cassidy began his shooting rampage in one location, Building B, before moving onto Building A, a large, three-story train yard where witnesses directed officers when they arrived. One worker pointed to the third floor and another on an exterior stairwell gave officers access inside with a key card, Cannan said. There, the team made their way through what was a command control location for VTA — a jumble of terminals, cubicles and office space.

Cannan declined to provide details about what happened then, if there was any interaction with Cassidy, or whether he was already dead when they arrived.

Minutes earlier, even as shots continued at the scene, four police officers would have surrounded four firefighters in a tactical diamond formation, Tacklind said, adding eight such teams were sent into the scene.

That way, we have “360 degree protection as we travel, and our guys will travel up and down hallways, corridors and into rooms,” Tacklind said, adding the diamond moves together to check victims. “Police would stand guard at the door and windows while we treat victims in that room.”

Tacklind said first responders want to get to potential victims during the “golden hour,” meaning 60 minutes from the time of injury to a hospital.

Read more at www.sfchronicle.com

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