9 killed in San Jose rail yard shooting, suspect also dead
Nine people were killed Wednesday morning during a shooting at a rail yard in San Jose, Calif. The shooter has also been reported dead.
Deputy Russel Davis of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office first announced that there were eight victims during a press conference Wednesday morning, saying the investigation is “ongoing” and cautioning that “the numbers can change.”
Late Wednesday night, the Santa Clara County Office of the Medical Examiner-Coroner revealed that a ninth victim was identified.
The victims have been identified 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; Lars Kepler Lane, 63; and Alex Ward Fritch, 49.
Fritch, the ninth victim, died at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center after being transported there from the scene in critical condition.
Davis said employees at the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), the facility where the shooting took place, are among the victims.
The suspected shooter was identified as a male employee of the VTA.
Davis said authorities will “go with the assumption” that the suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He added that deputies on the scene did not exchange gunfire.
Davis also revealed that an explosives detection dog “detected on a suspicious device,” which prompted authorities to “immediately” activate the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad.
He said the bomb squad is going to “pretty much canvas that whole area” to ensure the facility is safe for authorities to enter and conduct their investigation. Authorities have also dispatched a “bomb robot” to help search the buildings.
Five explosive detection canines from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have also been deployed to support investigative efforts, according to Joshua Jackson, the assistant special agent in charge with the ATF San Francisco field division.
Davis said officials will “clear every room and every crevice of that building,” noting that it is a “very big building.”
Robert Sapien, fire chief at the San Jose Fire Department, said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that three significant incidents unfolded that day that “required us to mobilize all of our on duty resources.”
Two involved reported fires, and one was the shooting at the rail yard, according to Sapien.
Multiple news outlets have reported that the location of one of the fires, a house on Angmar Court in San Jose, was the home of the shooter.
Sapien said the fire at that location is “under investigation.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) told a local television station that there was a fire at the shooter’s home, but nobody was inside.
“That is certainly the information that I have, is that there was a fire at the shooter’s home, there was nobody found inside the home, thank God,” Liccardo told local affiliate KGO, according to CNN.
“It would appear as if the fire was set as the shooter was on his way to the work site,” Liccardo added.
When asked about the fire at an earlier press conference, Davis said authorities are still gathering information and trying to determine if the situations are connected.
The VTA control center is a hub that stores a number of trains along with a maintenance yard, and has an indoor and outdoor area, the deputy said. It is located next door to the sheriff’s office headquarters, he added.
Glenn Hendricks, the chairperson of the VTA Board of Directors, noted at an earlier press conference that the shooting occurred on the VTA light rail yard, and not in the facilities operations control center.
Multiple reports of shots fired came in at around 6:34 a.m. local time, according to the deputy.
The San Jose Police Department and Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office tweeted just after 7 a.m. local time that officers were on the scene of an active shooting. Authorities requested people stay away from the area, near Younger Avenue and San Pedro Street.
About an hour later, Liccardo said on Twitter that the shooter was “no longer a threat,” adding that several people were being treated for injuries.
His comments came around the same time the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office tweeted “Shooter is down.”
Shooter is down
— SantaClaraCoSheriff (@SCCoSheriff) May 26, 2021
Davis said authorities initiated an active shooter protocol and dispatched a rescue task force to help extricate victims from the building.
He would not reveal, when asked by reporters, what type of weapon was used in the incident.
The deputy also announced that a reunification center has been established in the area for individuals who are looking for family members or trying to get in touch with others.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) tweeted his office is “in close contact with local law enforcement and monitoring this situation closely.”
Hendricks called the shooting a “horrible tragedy.”
“Our thoughts and love goes out to the VTA family, the organization and what they’ve had to go through. I could not be more proud of the VTA organization. As I drove here, I saw VTA buses out on the road,” he added.
Hendricks, when asked by reporters, said he did not know the number of people who are regularly working at the facility around 6:30 a.m., but said “it’s early in the morning when light rail service is starting.”
He also declined to reveal information regarding security on the premises.
Liccardo said Wednesday was “a horrific day” for San Jose and a “tragic day” for the VTA family, during a press conference alongside Hendricks.
“Our heart pains for the families and the co-workers because we know that so many are feeling deeply this loss of their loved ones and their friends. Now is a moment for us to collect ourselves, to understand what happened, to mourn and to help those who have suffered to heal. That will be my attention today and for the foreseeable future,” Liccardo said.
“My attention will then be immediately turned to ensuring we do everything possible to ensure this never happens again in our city,” he added.
President Biden on Wednesday called the shooting a “horrific tragedy,” adding that he has the “solemn duty” of again lowering the flag to half-staff, after doing so following the mass shootings in Atlanta, Colorado, South Carolina and Indiana.
“Enough,” Biden wrote.
He called on Congress to “take immediate action and heed the call of the American people” to “help end this epidemic of gun violence in America.”
“Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation. We can, and we must, do more,” he added.
Updated Thursday at 9:35 a.m.
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