San Jose mass shooting: Was suspect Samuel Cassidy, 57, mentally ill?

Samuel Cassidy set fire to his own home before carrying out the shooting at San Jose, California, after which he killed himself


                            San Jose mass shooting: Was suspect Samuel Cassidy, 57, mentally ill?
Tactical law enforcement officers move through Valley Transportation Authority light-rail yard where a mass shooting occurred on May 26, 2021, in San Jose, California (Getty Images/ Philip Pacheco)

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA: A mass shooting at a Northern California rail yard occurred on Wednesday morning, May 26. Public transit employee Samuel Cassidy, the suspect in this case, opened fire on his own co-workers, killing eight people, after which he turned the gun on himself and killed himself. 

Shots were fired at 6.34 am PT near 100 W Younger Avenue in downtown San Jose. Law enforcement showed up on the site of the incident shortly after, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office said. Cassidy was identified as the shooter. He was an employee of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), law enforcement said. 

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A view of the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light-rail yard where a mass shooting occurred on May 26, 2021, in San Jose, California. A VTA employee opened fire at the yard, with preliminary reports indicating nine people dead including the gunman (Getty Images)

Was Samuel Cassidy mentally ill?

Cassidy, 57, was reportedly armed with multiple weapons, according to sources. He had set fire to his own home which stands on Angmar Court before carrying out the bloodbath at the rail yard. "It would appear as if the fire was set as the shooter was on his way to the worksite," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement. 

While a motive is yet to be determined for the shooting, multiple sources said this is suspected workplace violence. It's not determined if the shooter was mentally ill, his family is yet to be identified and the police have been releasing information regarding this incident. Cassidy worked as a substation maintainer and made $160,000 in base, over time, and other payments at the organization. He had also filed a domestic violence restraining order against his ex-girlfriend. An ex-girlfriend of Cassidy allegedly said he had major mood swings as a result of bipolar disorder, which worsened when he drank large amounts of alcohol. She also alleged that he raped her and was extremely violent towards her whenever he had his alcohol-fueled mood swings. 

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said, “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. We have some very brave officers and deputies." Sheriff's Deputy Russell Davis said, “We received information that there are explosive devices that are located inside the building. We’re trying to clear out every room, every crevice of that building.” A bomb squad continued to clear the area hours after the shooting in case there were any explosives left behind by Cassidy. 

From the time shots were heard at the VTA yard, San Jose firefighters responded to an emergency call and rushed to a home about 10 miles away from the shooting location. Cassidy's home near 1100 Angmar Ct was up in flames and firefighters could smell an accelerant when they arrived, according to sources. Investigators believe there was ammunition inside the home and they are trying to figure out if there is a connection between the fire and the shooting, Davis said. 

The shooting scene lies within a half-mile radius of the San Jose Police Department, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, and District Attorney headquarters. White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the federal government is in touch with law enforcement in San Jose. "We will continue to stay in close contact with them and offer any assistance as needed," she said. "We still don't know all of the details... but what's clear, as the president has said, is that we are suffering from an epidemic of gun violence in this country, both in mass shootings and in the lives that are being taken in daily gun violence that doesn't make national headlines.

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