Updated May 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coroner identifies ninth victim of San Jose rail yard shooting

Jaspreet Kaur posts a sign at a vigil at City Hall, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in San Jose, Calif.

A woman posts a sign at a vigil for the shooting victims at City Hall, in San Jose, California, on Wednesday. Photo: Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The Santa Clara County coroner's office late Wednesday identified a ninth victim from the shooting at a transit station in San Jose, California, AP reports.

The latest: The coroner's officer confirmed the death of Alex Ward Fritch, 49, who was in critical condition but died after being hospitalized. The other victims were identified earlier: Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez, 35; Timothy Romo, 49; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; Lars Lane, 63; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; and Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40.

  • Authorities have identified the suspect as 57-year-old Sam Cassidy. They have yet to determine a motive.
    • His wife, Cecilia Nelms, told AP that Cassidy talked about killing people at his work over a decade ago.
    • A former girlfriend described Cassidy in court documents filed in 2009 as "volatile and violent, with major mood swings because of bipolar disorder that became worse when he drank heavily," AP writes.
  • Cassidy and many of the victims worked at the light rail facility for the Valley Transportation Authority, which provides bus, light rail and other transit services throughout Santa Clara, the biggest county in the Bay Area, per AP.
  • Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith told NBC's "Today" show that the gunman had two semiautomatic handguns and 11 loaded magazines, AP notes. A locker suspected to have belonged to him contained "materials for bombs, detonator cords, the precursors to an explosive."
  • Smith added that officials are investigating a fire that started before the shooting in a house that records say belonged to Cassidy, and suggested that he probably "“set some kind of a device to go off at a certain time probably to coincide with the shooting."

What we know: The shooting took place about 6:30am local time in two buildings at the VTA, a "transit control center that stores trains and has a maintenance yard," AP reports.

  • Smith told reporters Wednesday afternoon, "When our deputies went through the door, initially he was still firing rounds. When our deputy saw him, he took his life."
  • Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Russell Davis said at a Wednesday afternoon briefing that "deputies did not exchange gunfire" with the shooter, and officials believe the shooter's death was "self-inflicted."
  • Davis said explosives were found on the scene after the shooting and a bomb squad was investigating. Smith added the area had been "cordoned off," so it didn't pose a threat to the public.

Of note: President Biden ordered White House flags, and those of public buildings and grounds "throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions," to be lowered to half-staff in honor of the victims through sunset this Sunday.

What they're saying: Biden said in a statement, "Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation. We can, and we must, do more."

  • Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters the shooting was "absolutely tragic" and said she has family in San Jose. "I've worked for many many years with the mayor of San Jose and the police department and my prayers and my thoughts for all those families," she added.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a briefing, "It begs the question, what the hell is going on in the United States of America?" He added it's time for the country to "deal with endemic of gun violence.”

The big picture via AP: "The bloodshed comes in a year that has seen a sharp increase in mass killings as the nation emerges from pandemic restrictions that closed many public places and kept people confined to their homes."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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