The San Jose shooter who gunned down nine of his colleagues at a California rail yard had talked about killing people at work more than a decade ago, his ex-wife has said.
‘I never believed him, and it never happened. Until now,’ a tearful Cecilia Nelms said on Wednesday following Samuel Cassidy’s 6:30 a.m. rampage at a facility for the Valley Transportation Authority.
Cassidy killed nine of his co-workers, aged between 29 and 63, during the assault which Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said was ‘very deliberate and very fast’, before turning the gun on himself.
Sheriff Smith confirmed Cassidy had two semi-automatic handguns and 11 loaded magazines. It is unclear if they were legally obtained. Sheriff Smith told the Today show it appears Cassidy set timers to burn his house down to coincide with opening fire at rail depot.
She said: ‘The call came out with the shots fired at 6:34 in the morning and then the fire was reported at 6:37. So he must have had some way to set it or have someone else do it. What we’re operating under now…is that he set some kind of a device to go off at a certain time, probably to coincide with the shooting.’
Sheriff Smith also revealed how Cassidy had picked out his intended victims beforehand, saying: ‘He knew where employees would be.’
The Santa Clara County Office of the Medical Examiner-Coroner identified the victims as Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; Lars Kepler Lane, 63 and Taptejdeep Singh, 36.
Investigators have offered no immediate word on a possible motive but his ex-wife said he used to come home from work resentful and angry over what he perceived as unfair assignments.
‘He could dwell on things,’ she said. The two were married for about 10 years until a 2005 divorce filing and she hadn’t been in touch with Cassidy for about 13 years, Nelms said.
The gunman – identified as Samuel Cassidy, left, – opened fire at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail yard on Wednesday morning. His ex wife Cecilia Nelms, right, said he had talked about killing people at work more than a decade ago
Damage from a fire at the house of the suspect of a shooting is pictured. The blaze was first reported around the same time Samuel Cassidy began shooting, leading to speculation he used a timed device to set his home alight
Emergency responders respond to a fire at the house of the suspect of a shooting, since named as Samuel Cassidy, 57
Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith confirmed Cassidy had two semi-automatic handguns and 11 loaded magazines. She told the Today show it appears Cassidy set timers to burn his house down to coincide with opening fire at rail depot
Sheriff Smith added: ‘We know that the suspect entered the facility and began shooting. And there were deceased in two separate buildings which we believe he went from building to building.
‘Found in the scene of the shooting, our dogs alerted on probably what is his locker. And in it was materials for bombs, detonator cords, the precursors to an explosive.
‘And I think they also found at least rounds at the house too.’
‘When our deputies went through the door, initially he was still firing rounds. When our deputy saw him, he took his life,’ Smith had earlier told reporters.
The sheriff’s office is next door to the rail yard, which serves the county of more than 1 million people in the heart of the Silicon Valley.
Chilling surveillance video surfaced of Cassidy, 57, leaving his home shortly before the massacre
Samuel Cassidy, 57, opened fire shortly before 7am after he calmly set off from his home carrying a duffel bag which police believe contained the gun used in the attack. His home is around ten minutes drive away
Chilling footage shows maintenance worker Cassidy calmly setting off from his home carrying a duffel bag which police believe contained the gun used in the attack.
Sources said Cassidy shot virtually everyone on the morning shift, including some he had worked with for years.
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 86 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?’
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.
Another man wounded in the attack was in critical condition at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, spokesperson Joy Alexiou said.
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.
Lars Lane, 63, was shot dead by co-worker Cassidy at the rail yard shortly before 7am. Lane was described as a loving ‘husband, brother, father and grandfather’ by relatives
Victim Taptejdeep Singh, 36, was married father of two young children, according to ABC 7
Michael Rudometikin was also killed in the mass shooting at VTA on Wednesday morning was one of the eight people killed by co-worker Samuel Cassidy at the VTA rail yard on Wednesday morning
Paul Delacruz Megia is pictured in a social media photo. The 42-year-old dad was described as a ‘ray of sunshine’
Jose Dejesus Hernande, 35, (left) and Adrian Balleza, 29, (right) were also killed in Wednesday’s rail yard massacre
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.’
A friend of Paul Delacruz Megia similarly paid tribute on Facebook, describing him ‘as ray of sunshine’.
‘My heart is broken for your kids and family,’ the pal wrote of the 42-year-old dad.
Meanwhile, victim Lars Lane was described as a loving ‘husband, brother, father and grandfather’ by relatives who spoke with FOX 40.
His brother, Edward Lane, told the publication he was devastated by the ‘horrible’ situation.
The shooter had more than one gun, county District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had obtained the guns legally.
In court documents, an ex-girlfriend described Cassidy 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 2009 sworn statement filed after Cassidy had sought a restraining order against her. The documents were obtained by The San Francisco Chronicle.
Cassidy’s father James Cassidy, 88, answered the phone to DailyMail.com Wednesday and said: ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know what he might have been going through.’
He told The Daily Beast his son ‘seemed completely himself’ before the shooting, adding: ‘He didn’t talk about his job or politics. I just found out he was dead and his house on fire and all that a minute ago.’
Cesar Chavez Quinteros, a friend of Cassidy, told DailyMail.com that Cassidy suffered from depression and was on medication.
‘I know he had some issues with depression and was on meds,’ Quinteros said. ‘Not sure if there were other issues other than some inner demons like many of us have. It’s sad to hear they finally got the best of him.
‘I can only relate his actions today on some sort of mental illness. He was not at all like he will be portrayed in the following days due to today’s events.’
‘I don’t have much to say other than I’m just in complete shock,’ he said. ‘During the time that I knew him I never saw any signs in Sam doing something like this. He was a very nice man to those closer to him, polite and kept to himself. He was very smart, loved reading, especially Stephen King books.’
Emergency personnel respond to a shooting at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) facility on Wednesday
Tactical law enforcement officers move through the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light-rail yard where a mass shooting occurred Wednesday
San Jose Bomb Squad technician and his team meet before entering the scene of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority mass shooting
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 continuing to investigate the house fire. 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.
People take part in a vigil held by the Interfaith Community following the mass shooting
Doug Suh, who lives across the street, told The Mercury News in San Jose that Cassidy seemed ‘strange’ and that he never saw anyone visit.
‘I´d say hello, and he´d just look at me without saying anything,’ Suh said. Once, Cassidy yelled at him to stay away as he was backing up his car. ‘After that, I never talked to him again.’
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.