Samuel Cassidy was a 57-year-old public transit employee who was named as the mass shooting suspect who murdered nine people, including co-workers, during a union meeting at a light rail yard in San Jose, California, on May 26, 2021.
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, and they, tragically, then did, with a 9th victim dying later. Davis said the building where the shooting occurred is 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’s death brings the death toll to 10.
The victims were identified as 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; Alex Ward Fritch, 49. They worked as “bus and light rail operators, mechanics, linemen and an assistant superintendent,” according to USA Today.
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. Although the motive remains unclear, accounts emerged from women who knew Cassidy of an explosive temper and history of gripes and grievances about what he perceived as unfair assignments at work.
In a chilling video, Cassidy’s neighbor caught him leaving for work with a duffel bag on surveillance video.
“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 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
Los Angeles Times reporter Sarah Wire 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.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported, “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 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. Cassidy Was a VTA Employee Who Worked in Maintenance
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). Online salary records give his title as “Substation Maintainer.”
In 2015 his total compensation was nearly $183,000 including more than $124,000 in overtime and other pay. He made $20,205.07 in overtime pay that year.
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.”
3. The Victims Included VTA Employees; Cassidy Was Accused of Rape by a Former Girlfriend, According to a Report
Tributes flowed in for the victims. Assemblyman Bill Cassidy shared the above photo of Singh, and wrote, “This is Taptejdeep Singh. He was a husband & father of two. I was honored to represent him in the Assembly as Union City, resident. Today, his life was cut short. He was 1 of 8 VTA employees killed this morning 😢”
A woman wrote of victim Megia, “💔 Rest In Peace to the victims of this senseless act and massacre in San Jose’s VTA trail yard – including our dear friend Paul. Paul, you were a ray of sunshine and my heart is broken for your kids and family. Rest easy and thank you for the memories. 💔 ”
A man wrote about victim Balleza, “My Son’s childhood friend and classmate, Adrian Balleza was one of them. Prayers for his family and friends. 🙏🙏🙏”
A woman wrote in a People of Greenfield Facebook page about victim Romo, “We lost a Greenfield native in the San Jose shooting!! Timothy Michael Romo was 49. His father was an officer in greenfield and his mother worked in our school cafeterias. Good family!! My hearts go out to them and all others affected!! It’s just so senseless…”
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. A woman named in the divorce and restraining order cases shared the Angmar Court address with Cassidy from 1998 to 2003, according to public records. ABC7 confirmed the cases are related to the shooter.
However, court records obtained by the Chronicle allege a former girlfriend once accused Cassidy of rape and abuse.
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.”
She told the television station that her son claimed the shooting occurred in a room next to a breakroom.
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.”
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. Cassidy’s Ex-Wife Says He Talked About Killing Co-Workers Years Ago
According to The Associated Press, Cassidy, as far back as 12 years ago, spoke to his ex-wife about “killing people at work.”
“I never believed him, and it never happened. Until now,” Cecilia Nelms told The Associated Press. She told AP that Cassidy would complaint he received unfair assignments.
“He could dwell on things,” she said. They divorced in 2005.
Cassidy’s ex wife told the San Francisco Chronicle that he complained about co workers getting better assignments. She described him as having an “explosive” temper.
Online records say the shooter was 57 and has long ties to California. It appears he was born there and lived there all his life, including in San Jose and Santa Clara.
Cassidy’s 1,847-square-foot Angmar Court home was built in 1977 and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a fireplace and a garage all on 6,000 square feet of land, according to Zillow. The Santa Clara County assessor’s office valued the property at $176,517 in 2021, though Zillow estimates its value at over $1.1 million.
He did not have any obvious social media accounts.