San Jose gunman was reportedly questioned over hatred of workplace; coworker says he was an ‘outsider’: What we know

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Five years ago, U.S. Customs and Border Protection detained the suspected gunman in Wednesday’s shooting spree in San Jose and found that he expressed hatred of the rail yard where he worked and is now accused of killing nine people.

In 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped the suspect, Samuel James Cassidy, on a trip back from the Philippines, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo from the stop obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

An officer found Cassidy had “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,” according to the memo. When he was asked if he had problems with anyone at work, Cassidy said, “no,” according to the memo.

A Biden administration official said he saw the memo and confirmed its contents to The Associated Press.

A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on the memo to USA TODAY. The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, which is leading the investigation into the shooting, did not respond to repeated questions about whether they were notified about the 2016 stop or investigated Cassidy afterward.

A Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority spokesperson Friday, responding to a queston about whether Cassidy ever said or did anything to make employees uneasy, said the authority was reviewing all records that pertain to Cassidy.

‘Such extreme steps’: SaSan Jose killer intricately planned rail attack with a simple motive in mind

Here’s what we know Friday:

Witnesses say shooter targeted specific people, was an ‘outsider’

The contents of the memo align with the picture law enforcement has painted so far of a man who appears to have kindled hatred against the people he worked with for a decade.

As Cassidy gunned down nine other employees before taking his own life, witnesses say he targeted specific people.

Sheriff Laurie Smith said Cassidy told at least one person “I’m not going to shoot you,” before shooting others.

“So I imagine there was some kind of thought on who he wanted to shoot,” Smith said.

‘They did not wait’: Officers rushed into San Jose rail yard as gunshots were still ringing out, authorities say

Kirk Bertolet, a signal maintenance worker who worked in a separate unit from Cassidy, told the Associated Press that the suspect didn’t hurt people he encountered on the way to the second building, where more shots were fired.

“Sam made sure he killed all who he wanted. He made sure they were dead,” Bertolet said. “I watched some of my coworkers breathe their last breaths, and they were all gone. Seven of them were just gone.”

Bertolet called Cassidy an “outsider,” saying, “He was never in the group. He was never accepted by anybody. You look back and you go, ‘yeah, it fits.'”

Who were the victims?

Nine people died in the shooting, and among the victims were bus and light rail operators, mechanics, linemen and an assistant superintendent.

The victims were: 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; Lars Kepler Lane, 63; and Alex Ward Fritch, 49, according to the Santa Clara County coroner’s office.

VTA light rail maintenance operations manager George Sandoval said at a Thursday news conference that there is a strong connection among many of the agency’s employees.

“Many of these folks worked here for 20, 30 years, so yes, we do become a family,” Sandoval said. “Our staff respond to emergencies on the rail and there’s a bond.”

He tried to warn his co-workers, then he was shot: Loved ones mourn victims of shooting at San Jose rail yard

Victims honored at vigil

About 1,000 people gathered Thursday night at a vigil outside of San Jose’s city hall as family members tearfully remembered their loved one as heroes and role models.

Taptejdeep Singh’s brother, Karman, said his brother had a “lion’s heart.” As the gunman opened fire, Taptejdeep Singh rushed out of the safety of an office to help others escape, witnesses told his family.

Annette Romo, whose husband Timothy Michael died, told the crowd, “Never leave home without giving your loved one a kiss. Cause that was the last I got.”

A GoFundMe spokesperson said a centralized hub for identifying and verifying fundraisers for the victims and their families has been set up at gofundme.com/san-jose-strong.

Suspect prepared for the shooting for years, police say

Police say Cassidy, 57, plotted intricately for the shooting. He gathered weapons, read about terrorism, harbored bomb-making materials and rigged his home to go up in an inferno as he set out to kill nine fellow employees.

Before Cassidy left his home around 5:39 a.m., he set a timer or slow-burn device to set his home on fire, said Smith, the Santa Clara County sheriff.

Authorities say they found an assortment of what appeared to be bomb-making materials in Cassidy’s locker — forcing a lockdown of the area and bomb technicians to sweep the large complex.

Sheriff’s Deputy Russell Davis said Cassidy had three semi-automatic 9mm handguns along with 32 high-capacity magazines loaded with additional ammunition.

Those who knew Cassidy, 57, said he had anger and alcohol issues, threatened workplace violence and talked for years about his hatred of his workplace at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail hub.

Cecilia Nelms, who was married to Cassidy for about 10 years before they filed for divorce in 2005, told The Mercury News that he was often was angry at coworkers and about his assignments at work, though she said she hasn’t spoken with him in about more than a decade.

Another woman who dated Cassidy accused him of rape and sexual assault, according to court documents from 2009 obtained by The Mercury News. The documents also include accusations that Cassidy had severe mood swings and suffered from alcohol abuse.

Contributing: John Bacon and Grace Hauck, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: San Jose shooting: Samuel Cassidy questioned about workplace hatred





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