A traffic stop in West Texas sparked a shooting rampage in which the gunman killed at least seven people and injured 22 others. The white male in his 30s never stopped his car completely before he shot at the Texas troopers who pulled him over for failing to signal a left turn. He then proceeded to go on a drive-by mass shooting in rampage in the cities of Midland and Odessa on Saturday afternoon. At one point the man hijacked a postal truck and continued randomly firing on civilians. Police shot and killed the gunman in the parking lot of a movie theater outside Odessa.
Police identified the gunman as Seth Aaron Ator, a 36-year-old from Odessa who had been arrested in 2001 for a misdemeanor offense. Authorities still haven’t said where he obtained the AR-style weapon used in the attack but the misdemeanor offense would not have prevented him from legally buying guns in Texas. Ator is believed to have acted alone and authorities don’t believe he had ties to domestic or international terrorist groups. “There are no definitive answers as to motive or reasons at this point, but we are fairly certain that the subject did act alone,” Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said at a news conference.
Police had initially said five people were confirmed dead but updated the death toll to seven, not including the shooter, on Sunday. Among the injured were three law enforcement officers and a 17-month-old girl. Seven victims are in critical condition and two are in serious but stable condition. Although the gunman was known to police, authorities have not identified him or offered any kind of a motive for the shootings.
Initial reports claimed there was a second gunman, but authorities later said they believed those were mistaken and a result of the confusion that resulted when the shooter switched vehicles. Early reports also mistakenly claimed the shooting started at a Home Depot in Odessa. During the chaotic moments after the shooting spree began, the Odessa Police Department warned on Facebook about possibly two suspects “currently driving around Odessa shooting at random people.”
This is a breaking news story and has been updated with more information since it was first published.