A transit employee who gunned down nine co-workers and killed himself at a Northern California rail yard was “highly disgruntled” long before carrying out the latest U.S. shooting rampage, the county sheriff said on Thursday.
Local authorities have declined to speculate on a precise motive for Wednesday’s gun violence in San Jose, California, saying their work at the scene could take days, assisted by the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Sheriff Laurie Smith said in a written statement that the gunman’s feelings about his workplace at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (TVA) “may have contributed to why he targeted” his co-workers.
“Based on recent developments in the investigation we can say that the suspect has been a highly disgruntled VTA employee for many years,” Smith wrote.
The statement named the gunman as Samuel Cassidy, 57, whose identification had been widely reported by news media since soon after the shooting.
The gunfire erupted just after a morning union meeting at a light-rail maintenance yard about 50 miles south of San Francisco in the heart of Silicon Valley. Cassidy shot himself minutes later as police arriving on the scene closed in, according to Smith.
The gunman and the nine victims shot dead were all employees of the Santa Clara VTA. The victims were found in two buildings on the site, near the city’s airport.
The Wall Street Journal, citing a Department of Homeland Security memo, reported that U.S. customs and border officers detained Cassidy in 2016 as he returned from the Philippines and found that he professed a hatred of his workplace.
At the time Cassidy had in his possession “books about terrorism and fear and manifestos … as well as a black memo book filled with lots of notes about how he hates the VTA,” the Journal quoted the memo as stating.
The memo did not say why Cassidy was detained but notes that he had a “minor criminal history”, including a 1983 arrest in San Jose for “misdemeanor obstruction/resisting a peace officer,” the Journal reported.