A gunman who killed seven people and injured over 20 during a rampage in west Texas on Saturday had lost his job as a truck driver shortly before the incident, a new report suggests.
The shooter, Seth A. Ator, was fired from his job with a trucking company mere hours before he opened fire at a state trooper when pulled over for failing to signal a turn at around 3:17pm local time on Saturday, the New York Times reported, citing police sources. Without disclosing the company’s name, the sources said that the gunman had been given the sack that very morning. Whether this was what set off Ator is the subject of speculation, with police remaining tight-lipped about the shooter’s motive.
However, if that turns out to be the case, it would not be the first time a disgruntled former employee had flipped out and went on a shooting spree. In a shooting in Aurora, Illinois last February, Gary Martin gunned down five of his colleagues after being fired from his job of 15 years at a manufacturing company. Like Ator, Martin had a previous criminal record.
In 2001, the Odessa gunman was arrested on misdemeanor charges for criminal trespass and evading arrest. There were also reports that he had brandished a rifle in front of a neighbor, while admonishing her for leaving trash at a nearby dumpster.
After injuring the state trooper, Ator proceeded to move towards Odessa while shooting at motorists at random. Photos of bullet-ridden cars at various locations across the city have surfaced online, with police saying that they are investigating over 15 crime scenes, including a car dealership and a shopping mall. At one point of the chase, the gunman switched cars, hijacking a postal van and killing the female driver.
The gunman was eventually taken down at Cinergy Movie Theater in Odessa. The showdown with Ator saw a police vehicle ram the suspect’s van before a tense shootout between officers and the gunman.
Police initially refused to identify the suspect, saying that they do not want to give him any publicity. However, this prompted some to accuse law enforcement of racial bias after the shooter was initially identified as a “white male in his 30s.”
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