MIDLAND, Texas (AP) - The Latest on a shooting in West Texas (all times local):
Authorities said Sunday they still could not explain why a man with an AR-style weapon opened fire during a routine traffic stop in West Texas to begin a terrifying, 10-mile (16-kilometer) rampage that killed seven people, injured 22 others and ended with officers gunning him down outside a movie theater.
Authorities identified the shooter as Seth Aaron Ator, 36, of Odessa. Online court records show Ator was arrested in 2001 and charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass and evading arrest. He entered guilty pleas in a deferred prosecution agreement where the charge was waived after he served 24 months of probation, according to records.
That brush with the law would not have prevented Ator from legally purchasing firearms in Texas, although authorities have not said where Ator got his weapon.
Ator acted alone and federal investigators believe the shooter had no ties to any domestic or international terrorism group, FBI special agent Christopher Combs said. Authorities said those killed were between the ages of 15 and 57 years old but did not immediately provide a list of names. The injured included three law enforcement officers, as well as a 17-month-old girl who sustained injuries to her face and chest.
Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke refused to say the name of the shooter during a televised news conference, saying he wouldn’t give him notoriety, but police later posted his name on Facebook. A similar tack has been taken in some other recent mass shootings.
Gerke said there were still no answers pointing to a motive for the chaotic rampage, which began Saturday afternoon when Texas state troopers tried pulling over a gold car on Interstate 20 for failing to signal a left turn. Police said Ator had no outstanding warrants. His arrest in 2001 was around Waco, hundreds of miles east of Odessa.
Before the vehicle came to a complete stop, the driver “pointed a rifle toward the rear window of his car and fired several shots” toward the patrol car stopping him, according to Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger. The gunshots struck a trooper, Cesinger said, after which the gunman fled and continued shooting. He fired at random as he drove in the area of Odessa and Midland, two cities in the heart of Texas oil country more than 300 miles (483 kilometers) west of Dallas. At one point, he hijacked a mail carrier truck, killing the lone postal worker inside.
U.S. Postal Service officials identified her as Mary Granados, 29.
Police used a marked SUV to ram the mail truck outside the Cinergy Movie Theater in Odessa, disabling the vehicle. The gunman then fired at police, wounding two officers. Combs said the gunman might have entered the theater if police had not killed him.
“In the midst of a man driving down the highway shooting at people, local law enforcement and state troopers pursued him and stopped him from possibly going into a crowded movie theater and having another event of mass violence,” Combs said.
The shooting came at the end of an already violent month in Texas, where on Aug. 3 a gunman in the border city of El Paso killed 22 people at a Walmart. Sitting beside authorities in Odessa, Abbott ticked off a list of mass shootings that have now killed nearly 70 since 2016 in his state alone.
“I have been to too many of these events,” Abbott said. “Too many Texans are in mourning. Too many Texans have lost their lives. The status quo in Texas is unacceptable, and action is needed.”
But Abbott, a Republican, remains noncommittal about imposing any new gun laws in Texas at a time when Democrats and gun-control groups are demanding restrictions. And even as Abbott spoke, a number of looser gun laws that he signed this year took effect on the first day of September, including one that would arm more teachers in Texas schools.
Saturday’s shooting brings the number of mass killings in the U.S. so far this year to 25, matching the number in all of 2018, according to The AP/USATODAY/Northeastern University mass murder database. The number of people killed this year has already reached 142, surpassing the 140 people who were killed of all last year. The database tracks homicides where four or more people are killed, not including the offender.
Witnesses described gunfire near shopping plazas and in busy intersections
Dr. Nathaniel Ott was working at an Odessa emergency care center where he is the medical director when he heard gunshots. He rushed outside to find a woman in the driver’s seat of an SUV bleeding from a gunshot wound in the arm. Ott said that as he and a paramedic were working on the woman, the shooter drove back by.
“The shooter drove within 30 feet of us and drove up that road,” Ott said Sunday, pointing to one of the streets leading past the shopping center where his facility is located. “The shooter was driving. It was insane. He was just everywhere.”
Daniel Munoz, 28, of Odessa, was headed to a bar to meet a friend when he noticed the driver of an approaching car was holding what appeared to be a rifle.
“This is my street instincts: When a car is approaching you and you see a gun of any type, just get down,” said Munoz, who moved from San Diego about a year ago to work in oil country. “Luckily I got down. ... Sure enough, I hear the shots go off. He let off at least three shots on me.”
He said he was treated at a hospital and is physically OK, though bewildered by the experience.
“I’m just trying to turn the corner and I got shot — I’m getting shot at? What’s the world coming to? For real?”
Authorities say the seven people killed in a shooting rampage in West Texas range in age from 15 to 57.
Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said at a news conference Sunday that authorities have no definitive answers yet about a motive in Saturday's shooting.
It began with Texas state troopers pulling over a driver for failing to signal a left turn. Police say the driver went on a more than 10-mile shooting rampage, hijacking a mail carrier truck and firing at random as he drove in the area of Odessa and Midland. He shot more than 20 people before being killed by officers outside a movie theater.
The medical director of an emergency care center says he witnessed part of a shooting rampage in West Texas that left seven people dead before police killed the gunman.
Dr. Nathaniel Ott says he heard shots around 3 p.m. Saturday while at work in Odessa. He rushed outside to find a woman in the driver's seat of an SUV bleeding from a gunshot wound in the arm. Ott says a paramedic put a tourniquet on the woman's arm and he ran back inside to get a bag of fluids and an IV.
They then loaded the woman into a police cruiser to be driven to a nearby trauma center. He doesn't know how she's doing now.
Ott says that as they were working, the shooter drove back by the intersection, followed by police. He says the gunman drove within 30 feet of him. He says of the shooter: "He was just everywhere."
A number of looser gun restrictions are taking effect in Texas as authorities investigate why a man fled a traffic stop and went on a shooting rampage, leaving at least seven people dead. Police eventually killed the shooter.
New laws easing firearm restrictions in Texas churches and increasing the number of armed teachers took effect Sunday. The measures were signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott this year following a legislative session that was applauded by the National Rifle Association.
Texas expanded gun rights following a 2017 mass shooting at a church that left more than two dozen dead and a 2018 mass shooting at high school that left 10 dead.
Abbott was scheduled to visit Odessa on Sunday. He met twice with lawmakers this past week in wake of a mass shooting Aug. 3 in the Texas border city of El Paso that left 22 dead. Abbott has remained noncommittal about new gun laws.
President Donald Trump is praising law enforcement in West Texas after police say at least seven people were killed when a gunman randomly opened fire on people after fleeing a traffic stop. Police eventually killed the shooter.
Trump on Sunday called the shooting rampage "A very tough and sad situation!" in a tweet. It came just weeks after another Texas mass shooting at Walmart in El Paso that left 22 people dead.
The shootings have reignited a debate in the U.S. over gun control. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania told ABC's "This Week" that Trump is "very interested in doing something meaningful" but said he couldn't guarantee an outcome.
Democratic presidential contenders are intensifying their criticism of Trump and Republicans. Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke condemned expressions of "thoughts and prayers" as insufficient following Saturday's shooting in his home state.
Odessa police say the death toll in a West Texas shooting rampage is now seven after a man stopped by state troopers opened fire and fled, shooting people at random. Police later shot the gunman.
Odessa police spokesman Steve LeSueur said Sunday that at least one person remains in "life-threatening" condition. Authorities have said the gunman shot more than 20 people before being killed by officers outside a movie theater.
Police say the shooter was a white man in his 30s but have not released a name or possible motive.
The shooter hijacked a mail carrier truck on Saturday afternoon and fired at random as he drove in the area of Odessa and Midland.
Odessa police had scheduled a news conference for noon.
The acting U.S. homeland security secretary calls a mass shooting in West Texas that left at least five people dead "extraordinarily concerning" and describes it and other recent mass shootings as a "homeland security threat."
Kevin McAleenan told ABC's "This Week" that Homeland Security Department officials will be "following up aggressively" on the West Texas shooting but didn't want to jump to any conclusions about the causes or motive.
It began with Texas state troopers pulling over a driver for failing to signal a left turn. Police say the driver went on a more than 10-mile shooting rampage Saturday afternoon, hijacking a mail carrier truck and firing at random as he drove in the area of Odessa and Midland. He shot more than 20 people before being killed by officers outside a movie theater.
When asked if recent mass shootings should be considered a homeland security threat, McAleenan said: "They are absolutely a homeland security threat."
At least five people are dead in West Texas after a man stopped by state troopers for failing to signal a left turn opened fire and fled. Authorities say the gunman shot more than 20 people as he drove before being killed by officers outside a movie theater.
Police in Odessa plan a Sunday morning news conference to update the investigation into the chaotic rampage during which the suspect hijacked a mail carrier truck and fired at random as he drove in the area of Odessa and Midland.
The two cities are in the heart of Texas oil country, more than 300 miles (483 kilometers) west of Dallas.
Police have only identified the gunman as a man in his 30s and have not offered a motive.