West Texas mass shooting leaves 5 dead and 21 wounded
Five people are dead and 21 wounded in western Texas after a shooter opened fire from his vehicle Saturday in the Odessa and Midland area, police said.
The shooter was firing at random from his car, hitting multiple people, including several law enforcement officers and a 17-month-old girl, police said. At one point he ditched his gold Honda, hijacked a U.S. Postal Service vehicle and continued on his rampage.
The shooter — identified only as a white man in his 30s — was shot and killed in a gun fight with police behind a movie theater, authorities said. Despite earlier reports of a second gunman, police said they had no confirmation that another person was involved.
Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said three officers were shot in the rampage, including officers from Odessa, nearby Midland, and a state trooper. Gerke said many law enforcement agencies were involved, including the sheriff and the University of Texas police.
Jorge Nieto, 34, said he was at his parent’s house in Odessa when he looked out the window and saw police cars swarming near the postal truck.
Then he spotted a body lying in the street.
“I didn’t hear any gunshots,” Nieto said. “I was confused. I thought someone got in a fight.”
Zindy Galindo said she was driving to Walmart with her young son when a car she believed was a Toyota swerved in front of her.
She heard a loud bang and thought it was a tire popping. She noticed that the back window of a nearby car had shattered, and it dawned on her that she might have witnessed a shooting.
“At that point, I panicked and called my husband,” Galindo said.
Still, she continued to Walmart and sat in the parking lot, waiting for her son to wake up from a nap.
She saw people running. Shots were coming from the same car she had noticed earlier, she said. She grabbed her son out of his car seat and hid on the floor of her car.
A 17-month-old girl was one of several bystanders wounded in the shooting rampage. The infant was hit in the face with a bullet fragment, which knocked out her front teeth and left a hole in her bottom lip and tongue, according to Haylee Wilkerson, the baby’s teacher. Wilkerson said she’d been in touch with the baby’s mother.
“The baby was flown to Lubbock and is in stable condition,” she said.
An unidentified witness told local radio station KOSA that a postal worker, her letter carrier, was shot in the head during the hijacking. The witness said she went out to assist the driver but police told her to take cover.
Midland Councilman John B. Love said that the rampage began when the gunman was pulled over for a traffic stop on Interstate 20 by a Department of Public Safety law enforcement officer. The gunman then shot the officer and continued shooting others before hijacking the postal vehicle.
“Our community is devastated. We are hurting,” Love said. “It’s just really, really horrible.”
It is not clear what motivated the attack, he said.
Officials declined to comment on whether the shooter was killed by police officers or took his own life.
“This was a joint effort by a multitude of departments to find this animal and bring him to justice,” said Police Chief Gerke, crediting the various law enforcement agencies responsible for ending the violence.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he would be traveling to Odessa on Sunday to meet with law enforcement officers and victims’ families.
“The first lady and I are heartbroken over this senseless and cowardly attack, and we offer our unwavering support to the victims, their families, and all the people of Midland and Odessa,” he said. “I thank the first responders who have acted swiftly and admirably under pressure, and I want to remind all Texans that we will not allow the Lone Star State to be overrun by hatred and violence. We will unite, as Texans always do, to respond to this tragedy.”
It was the fourth mass shooting in the U.S. in recent weeks.
On July 28, three people were shot to death at a garlic festival in Gilroy, Calif.
Then, on Aug. 3, a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, killing 22 people in an attack that investigators say targeted Mexicans.
The next day, nine people were killed outside a bar in Dayton, Ohio.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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