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Shooting at Union Transit Facility

8 people shot dead during union meeting at a San Jose rail yard

Kris LaGrange's picture
May 26, 2021

On Wednesday, a gunman opened fire on a San Jose light rail yard. The latest deadly shooting ended with at least eight people dead and countless others injured.

The shooting took place at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light rail hub and it’s believed that the shooter was Sam Cassidy, a 57-year-old licensed smog check repair technician who has worked for the authority since 2003. It has been reported that a union meeting was going on when the shooting began. ABC-7 is reporting that earlier in the day, the San Jose Fire Department responded to a fire at an address associated with Cassidy, leading them to believe that he set fire to his residence on the way to the shooting. Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen said that Cassidy took his own life after the shooting.

According to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) that yard is staffed by ATU Local 265 members, some of which are believed to be among those killed. In a statement, ATU General President John Costa said “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the multiple fatalities and injuries at a shooting today at a VTA rail facility in San Jose, CA. Our hearts and prayers are with our sisters, brothers, and their families at Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 265 in San Jose, CA. We are working to provide support and assistance to the victims’ families, and everyone impacted by this tragic event.”

At about 6:34 AM calls began to come in that there was an active shooter in downtown San Jose, with a large law enforcement presence descending onto the scene and shots ringing out as officers arrived. Hours after the shooter was found dead, a bomb squad was clearing the area after bomb squad dogs indicated that there could be explosives in the area.

As the shooting was occurring ATU Local 256 released a one word tweet saying “pray.”

As news of the shooting began to leak out, anxious family members rushed to the reunification center that was set up at a nearby county administration building, praying that their loved ones were not among those who were injured or killed. Many people could not get in touch with their loved ones since many are not allowed to use their phones while driving a bus or train.

“I’m a little bit worried,” Angel Diaz said in Spanish to USA Today. Diaz was looking for his brother Max Dominguez at the family reunification center. But he said there could be many reasons why he had yet to hear from his brother. “He drives a bus, so they don’t let them use the phone.”

The South Bay Labor Council, which represents over 100,000 union members in Santa Clara and San Benito Counties, has set up fund to help the victims and their families. “We’re heartbroken to hear the news this morning of a mass shooting at the VTA light rail yard,” the council said in a statement. “As we closely monitor the situation, our thoughts are with the victims, their families, and all VTA workers. These are our brothers and sisters in the labor movement, and we are here for them with love, solidarity, and support.”

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