Samuel Cassidy was a 57-year-old public transit employee who was named as the mass shooting suspect who murdered eight people, including co-workers, during a union meeting at a light rail yard in San Jose, California.
A police spokesman, Russell Davis, said in a news conference that there were “eight victims who were pronounced deceased at this point and there was one suspect” who is deceased. He said the numbers could change. Davis called the building where the shooting occurred at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) “control center” which is a “hub that stores multiple VTA trains and a maintenance yard as well.” The gunman brings the death toll to nine.
The shooting occurred “on the VTA light rail yard but it did not happen in the operations control center,” VTA Board Chairman Glenn Hendricks said in the news conference.
Authorities declined to release the suspect’s name, but NBC News released it based on sources.
“Law enforcement officials say id of San Jose shooter is Samuel Cassidy. Bomb squad looking into whether devices are at the scene and a nearby residence. 8 victims dead plus shooter killed himself, officials say,” wrote NBC News journalist Jonathan Dienst on Twitter. Authorities have not officially confirmed the name, although people on Twitter quickly gave it as Samuel Cassidy or Sam Cassidy. KTVU-TV, which also released the suspect’s name, called him Sam James Cassidy.
The shooting occurred at San Jose VTA Light Rail yard on May 26, 2021.
The mayor, Sam Liccardo, called it a “horrific day for our city and a tragic day for the VTA family. Our heart pains for the families and 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 suffered to heal.”
He added: “We are in a dark moment.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Authorities Also Responded to a Fire at Sam Cassidy’s Home & Authorities Were Searching for ‘Explosive Devices’ at the Shooting Scene
Sarah Wire, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, wrote on Twitter, “The suspect set his own house on fire, then drove to a Valley Transportation Authority union meeting and began shooting, law enforcement sources said.”
“We received information that there are explosive devices inside the building,” Davis said. “We are trying to clean out every room and every crevice in that building.” The sheriff, Laurie Smith, said in the news conference that authorities were still searching to see if there are actually any devices. She said it’s not clear yet whether the suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but he is deceased.
Demian Bulya, a San Francisco Chronicle journalist, wrote on Twitter, “At the same time a man went on a shooting rampage at a VTA yard in San Jose early Wednesday, firefighters responded to two nearby fires — one of them at a home owned by a person who has worked for the transit agency, records show.”
The location of the second fire is not clear.
Officials confirmed early on that multiple people were injured, and KTVU-TV reported on the union meeting angle. “Shooter is down,” the Sheriff’s Department wrote on Twitter.
VTA spokesperson Brandi Childress told ABC 7 that “multiple people” were injured, and the San Jose Mercury News reported, via sources, that multiple people are dead. The television station reported that the building houses light rail cars and is not open to the general public.
The shooting unfolded in the early morning hours of May 26, 2021 at 6:34 a.m. The mayor confirmed the shooting and fires were connected. It’s not clear where the second fire was located. The location is near the Sheriff’s Department.
2. The Sheriff’s Department Confirmed Samuel Cassidy Was an Employee
The Santa Clara County Sheriff confirmed that there was an “active shooter investigation.” Officials said in a news conference that the shooter was a VTA employee. He worked for Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA).
Specifically, KTVU-TV reported that the suspect was a technician at the rail yard. A VTA spokesman said in a news conference that he wasn’t clear how long the suspect had worked for VTA. The LA Times journalist said the gunman “was identified by sources as Samuel Cassidy, 57, a maintenance worker at the VTA.”
“Deputies currently on scene for an active shooter investigation in the area of 100 W. Younger Ave. SJ. Please stay away from the area. More info to follow.”
The San Jose Mercury News reported that the shooting was “near a VTA light rail yard.”
3. The Victims Included VTA Employees; Cassidy Appears to Have No Criminal History in the County
A Sheriff’s Department spokesman said in the first news conference that he would have more details shortly. He called it an “ongoing investigation,” and did reveal that “there are VTA employees who are victims.” It wasn’t clear yet whether the shooter was an employee, he said.
He couldn’t confirm whether the mass shooting happened at a meeting or was indoors or outdoors. Victims’ names were not released.
A VTA spokesman said in a news conference that the mass shooting was a “terrible event” and praised the response of VTA employees. “I’m so sorry for what’s occurred,” he said.
A review of court records for the county shows only a traffic case for Cassidy. There are two other cases in the name Samuel Cassidy but no DOB is listed. One is a divorce and the other is a DV-related restraining order, but he was the petitioner in both.
4. The Mother of a Worker Told Local Television ‘The Shooting Occurred During a Union Meeting’
KTVU based the union meeting report on the account of a woman who said her son was a VTA employee and told her that “the shooting occurred during a union meeting.”
Amalgamated Transit Union International President John A. Costa issued a statement to KTVU that said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the multiple fatalities and injuries at a shooting today at a VTA rail facility. Our hearts and prayers are with our sisters, brothers, and their families at ATU Local 265 in San Jose.”
She told the television station that her son claimed the shooting occurred in a room next to a breakroom.
Liccardo, the mayor of San Jose, tweeted, “A shooting at the VTA facility on Younger St has left several people being treated, but the situation is still being assessed. The shooter is no longer a threat, and the facility has been evacuated. I will update as more information becomes available.”
According to the San Jose Mercury News, it was one of the worst mass shootings in Bay Area history.
5. Samuel Cassidy Has Long Ties to California
Online records say the shooter is 57 and has long ties to California. It appears he was born there and lived there all his life.
He did not have an obvious social media accounts.