A gunman who killed nine people at a California railyard where he worked appeared to target some of the victims, a sheriff said.
Samuel Cassidy, 57, arrived at the light rail facility for the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) in San Jose around 6am on Wednesday with a duffel bag filled with semi-automatic handguns and high-capacity magazines, Santa Clara County sheriff Laurie Smith told The Associated Press (AP).
She said: “It appears to us at this point that he said to one of the people there: ‘I’m not going to shoot you.’”
“And then he shot other people. So I imagine there was some kind of thought on who he wanted to shoot.”
While there are no cameras inside the railyard’s two buildings, Ms Smith said footage captured him moving from one location to the next.
It took deputies six minutes from the first 911 calls to find Cassidy on the third floor of one of the buildings.
Ms Smith said he killed himself as deputies closed in on the facility serving the county of more than 1 million people in the heart of Silicon Valley.
She added more than 100 people were there at the time, and authorities found five victims in one building and two in another.
Kirk Bertolet, 64, was just starting his shift when shots rang out. He said Cassidy worked regularly with the victims. He called them “a good bunch of blue-collar people” but that Cassidy stuck out as a loner and outsider.
Mr Bertolet said: “I know some of those guys, they’ll keep joking with you and they’ll keep hammering you about stuff. And if you’re thin-skinned and you can’t take it … I see that is the main cause of what’s going on.”
“Sam made sure he killed all who he wanted. He made sure they were dead.
“I watched some of my co-workers breathe their last breaths, and they were all gone. Seven of them were just gone.”
The victims were Alex Ward Fritch, 49; Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; and Lars Kepler Lane, 63.
Sheriff’s officials described Cassidy as “a highly disgruntled VTA employee for many years,” saying that may have contributed to him targeting the workers. Documents show he had worked at the transit authority since at least 2012.
After being detained by customs officers in 2016, Cassidy was found to have a memo book with notes on how he hated the VTA, according to a Biden administration official who described a Department of Homeland Security memo laying out Cassidy’s statements.
The official saw the memo and detailed its contents to the AP but was not authorised to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the memo.
It does not say why he was stopped by customs officers. It said he had books about “terrorism and fear and manifestos” but when he was asked whether he had issues with people at work, he said no.
The memo notes that Cassidy had a “minor criminal history”, citing a 1983 arrest in San Jose and charges of “misdemeanour obstruction/resisting a peace officer”.
Cassidy’s ex-wife said he had talked about killing people at work more than a decade ago.
Cecilia Nelms previously told the AP: “I never believed him, and it never happened. Until now.”
She 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 had not been in touch with Cassidy for about 13 years.
The three 9 mm handguns Cassidy brought to the rail yard appear to be legal, sheriff’s officials said. Authorities do not yet know how he obtained them.
He also had 32 high-capacity magazines, some with 12 rounds. In California, it is illegal to buy magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
However, if Cassidy obtained them before January 1, 2000, he would have been allowed to have them unless he was otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms.
The sheriff said authorities found explosives at the gunman’s home, where investigators believe he had set a timer or slow-burn device so that a fire would occur at the same time as the shooting.
Flames were reported minutes after the first 911 calls came in from the rail facility.
The attack was the 15th mass killing in the US this year, all shootings that claimed at least four lives each for a total of 87 deaths, according to a database compiled by AP, USA Today and Northeastern University.
President Joe Biden urged Congress to act on legislation to curb gun violence, saying: “Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation. We can, and we must, do more.”