Police in Odessa, Texas, have confirmed that the gunman responsible for the deadly shooting rampage in Odessa and Midland, Texas on Saturday, August 31, acted alone. The gunman was taken down by officers after he had shot multiple innocent people as he drove through the two cities yesterday. Law enforcement officials have confirmed to the Associated Press that the gunman’s name is Seth Ator. Updates on him will be found here.
Police confirmed that seven victims were killed. More than 20 others were injured.
Officers had initially been searching for two possible shooters when the attacks were first reported. In a news conference Sunday afternoon, Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke initially stated that he “refused” to speak the gunman’s name. A couple of hours later, the department confirmed via social media that the shooter had been identified as Ator.
The shooting began as a traffic stop on Interstate 20 between Odessa and Midland. Officials confirmed at the press conference that the gunman was pulled over for a traffic violation, specifically for “failing to signal.” They also confirmed the suspect has a criminal history. The gunman has an Ector County address. Officials added that there was not an active warrant for the man at the time of the traffic stop.
The gunman fired an AR-style rifle as he drove, eventually ending up at the Cinergy movie theater in Odessa. A gun battle ensued with officers there, and that is where the suspect was shot and killed. A motive has not been determined.
Here’s what you need to know.
The Shooting Rampage Began as a Traffic Stop; The Gunman Was Armed With an AR-Style Rifle
The Texas Department of Public Safety warned drivers to avoid I-20 in Odessa, Midland and Spring Spring on Saturday afternoon as initial reports of potentially multiple shooters started to come in. Midland Police confirmed that they were looking for a suspect driving a gold or white-colored Toyota vehicle.
We now know that troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety pulled over the driver in the gold vehicle. Before the vehicle had even come to a complete stop, the gunman pointed an AR-style rifle out the rear window and fired, shooting one of the troopers, before fleeing the scene. Officials have since shared that the trooper is expected to make a full recovery.
The gunman continued to fire at random people as he drove. He eventually abandoned the gold vehicle and hijacked a United States Postal Service truck, which had been driven by a postal worker identified as Mary Granados. She was among the victims killed.
The Shooter Hijacked a Mail Van & Was Killed at an Odessa Movie Theater
Odessa Police first shared via social media that the suspect in the U.S. mail truck had stolen the vehicle after abandoning his first vehicle. This switch contributed to the confusion about whether there were multiple shooters.
The gunman was shooting at random people as he drove. He ended up at a movie complex in Odessa called Cinergy. Police have not publicly speculated as to why the shooter traveled in that direction or whether he may have been planning a larger attack.
Law enforcement cornered the suspect in the parking lot of the Cinergy theater. This sparked a gun battle and the suspect was shot and killed by officers.
Officials said there were no more reports of additional injuries after this suspect was killed, which helped lead to the conclusion that the threat was over.
Earlier Reports of an Active Shooter at a Home Depot in Odessa Turned Out to Be False
Meanwhile, the Midland Police Department had also reported that they were investigating reports of an active shooter at the Home Depot in Odessa. Midland and Odessa are located about 20 miles away from each other. Midland Police urged people to “stay away from the area and stay in your homes.”
Home Depot later told Heavy, “there was not a shooting in our store in Odessa (or Midland).”
Early on, the University of Texas in Odessa warned students via social media to get somewhere safe and stay there. The university posted at 4:42 p.m. ET, “Lock DownLock down in place. Officers are looking for suspect in shooting in the are of UTPB Campus. LOCK DOWN NOW.”
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