Body camera footage reveals final moments of VTA shoot
SAN JOSE – New body camera images released on Tuesday reveal the bizarre final minutes of last week’s mass shooting at a streetcar construction site, showing law enforcement invading a building where a disgruntled Valley Transportation Authority employee opened fire on his colleagues before killing himself.
The images – released by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department six days after Samuel James Cassidy, 57, shot and killed nine colleagues – are the first inside look at the deadliest rampage in the region’s history of the bay, including the moment the first responder team encountered the shooter, holding the weapon he had shot at.
“I see the gun in his hand. I see the gun in his hand, ”shouts a law enforcement officer.
“I got it – I got the point,” replies another.
The four-minute video begins around 6:37 a.m., as five officers prepare to climb the back staircase of the three-story office building where the gunman has put an end to his rampage after killing several colleagues in a room. conference across the VTA yard. Only two minutes had passed since the first call, according to Lt. Aaron Simonson.
VIDEO: Body camera footage captures police response to mass VTA fire. WARNING: This video may disturb viewers.
As the footage begins, what appears to be gunshots are heard as officers – including three officers from the San Jose Police Department, a sheriff’s deputy and a sergeant – walk through the rail yard to approach of the building.
As the team ascends the stairs, an ATV supervisor escapes from the building at the top of the stairs, handing his key card to the agents to allow them access. “Come behind me, come behind me,” a deputy told him. The team enters through a break room, walks past a refrigerator and wall-mounted first aid kit before heading to the main office.
Shining flashlights around the dark desk, they quickly begin to clean the room, briefly lighting up empty cubicles and computer screens that looked like they had been abandoned halfway through.
Moments later, the sound of three more gunshots pierced the air.
The video then shows the team of officers quickly breaking through a set of double doors, where they find the gunman reclined on an office chair in his signature blue jacket. The jacket he wore was not part of his uniform, but rather a distinctive Carhartt safety coat which his colleagues said was his signature.
As two agents swarm Cassidy, grabbing his gun, the camera shifts to the left, revealing a window through which the agents believe he fired moments before.
“I understood the subject,” says an agent. Minutes later, Cassidy’s body would be placed on the roof of a police patrol car.
At a press conference on Tuesday – the first since the day of the shooting – Sheriff Laurie Smith said she believed Cassidy knew the team were closing in, prompting her to shoot herself in the chin, then on the side of the head. , a story confirmed by the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s Office.
“The autopsy concluded that the death was suicide and that the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds to the head,” the office said in a statement Tuesday evening. “Although rare, it can occur in suicides in which the first shot to the head was not immediately fatal.”
At the press conference, deputies from the sheriff’s office described the contents of the video, but largely avoided questions about Cassidy’s possible motive and red flags that might have alerted VTA or authorities to the threat. earlier. The Federal Bureau of Investigations has turned the scene over to the sheriff’s office, which remains in charge of the investigation and has not yet returned the site to VTA.
Authorities have revealed little about the shooter’s possible motives. VTA has yet to share personnel files publicly, although the agency said last week it would investigate any previous complaints about Cassidy, who apparently harbored a long-standing anger against the agency.
Cassidy’s ex-wife said he spoke of killing co-workers, while an ex-girlfriend accused him of alcohol-related mood swings. In 2016, Customs and Border Patrol reportedly arrested Cassidy upon returning from a trip to the Philippines, finding he had books on terrorism and a memo filled with anti-ATV writings, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The workers described him as a misfit and “weird”.
“Everyone thought he was just a little weird,” a worker told the news agency last week. “I didn’t know he was dangerous but I’m not surprised either. There was something wrong with his wiring, that’s how I would describe it.
When asked directly if the sheriff’s office had been alerted to previous federal detention or any other information, Smith objected on Tuesday, saying “I don’t know” the nature of the threat identified by CBP.
Instead, the sheriff focused her praise on the five first responders, saying she believed their implementation of the department’s active fire protocol saved lives.
“It was implemented by the sheriff’s office and the San José police officers who barely spoke a word to each other, they knew what their job was, they did their job and then confronted the suspect,” he said. she declared.