At Least 9 People Killed in Shooting at California Light Rail Yard, Suspect Also Dead
The suspect was an employee for the Valley Transportation Authority, a public transportation system for San Jose and the surrounding area
At least nine people were killed and others were injured in a Wednesday morning shooting at a San Jose, Calif., light rail yard.
The male shooter, who worked for the Valley Transportation Authority, the local public transportation system that operates the rail yard, fatally shot himself when law enforcement officers arrived.
Authorities said other VTA employees were killed in the shooting, which was first reported to authorities via 911 calls at about 6:34 a.m.
Eight people were initially reported dead, and a ninth died later Wednesday evening.
Authorities received a report of possible explosive devices inside a building at the rail yard. A bomb squad was inside the building investigating as of Wednesday afternoon.
Law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times the suspected shooter set his own home on fire before heading to the VTA facility, where there was a union meeting.
The suspect did not exchange gunfire with responding officers, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said at a Wednesday press conference.
"When the suspect knew that law enforcement was there, he took his own life," she said.
Smith said sheriff's deputies and San Jose police officers arrived quickly after the initial 911 calls. Calling them her "true heroes," she said the shooting would have been much worse had they not responded quickly.
"When the shots were still being fired, our teams, with San Jose PD, are entering the building while shots were still going off. We attempted rescues," Smith said. "We have some very brave officers and deputies."
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The facility, on Younger Street, is next door to the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department and across a freeway from the airport, the Associated Press reports. At the facility, the VTA does maintenance on vehicles, and vehicles are also dispatched from there.
San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo mourned the victims at a press conference, saying that VTA employees "are and were essential workers. They helped us get through this horrific pandemic. ... They were taking risks with their own lives."
"This is a horrific day for our city and tragic day for the VTA family," he said. "Our heart pains for the families and the coworkers."
Glenn Hendricks, chairman of the VTA Board of Directors, said at a press conference, "We are so sorry this event happened. We are there for you."
Hendricks added, "VTA is a family. People in the organization know everyone. It is a terrible tragedy and we will do everything we can to help people get through this."
Governor: 'What the Hell is Going on in the United States?'
Governor Gavin Newsom mourned the victims at a press conference and praised the heroism of police. He also lamented what he described as an "epidemic" of gun violence and mass shootings in the United States.
"There's a numbness I imagine some of us are feeling, because there's a sameness to this," he said. "Anywhere, USA. It just feels like this happens over and over and over again. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat."
He added, "It begs the damn question: What the hell is going on in the United States of America?"
Joy Alexiou, spokeswoman for the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, tells PEOPLE the hospital received two patients from the shooting: One was a man who was dead on arrival, the other is a man listed in critical condition.
Alexiou tells PEOPLE she has worked at the hospital for nearly 20 years, and hadn't encountered a mass shooting at the facility until 2019, when a gunman opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival and killed three people.
"I can't believe this has happened twice in three years," she says.