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San Jose's Mayor Says The Gunman Set Fire To His Own Home Before Killing 9

Emergency personnel responded to reports of a shooting at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority facility on Wednesday. The gunman killed nine people and took his own life.
Emergency personnel responded to reports of a shooting at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority facility on Wednesday. The gunman killed nine people and took his own life.

A transit worker opened fire early Wednesday morning at a light-rail facility in downtown San Jose, Calif., fatally shooting nine people and taking his own life. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo told NPR's Morning Edition that the gunman set fire to his own home before the shooting.

Many employees were already working at the facility when the shooting started at around 6:30 a.m., Liccardo said. The mayor spoke with the brother of one of the victims, who said he had been on the phone with his brother when the shooting took place.

"They both worked at the facility, and one was urging the other not to come in because he had heard shooting elsewhere in the facility," Liccardo said. "And then, of course, there was no voice at the other end of the line."

The suspect was reportedly employed by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, a bus and light-rail transit service that operates in Santa Clara County.

"The shooter had set his own home on fire that morning," Liccardo said, before he traveled several miles to the transit center. "There was another fire that was closer nearby, and we're still trying to better understand the connection between that and this incident," he said.

The mayor said shootings of this scale are "uniquely American." He said attacks of this nature can be attributed to the number of firearms in circulation.

"We have a lot of regulations, and there's no question that we need to do more to reduce gun violence," Liccardo said. "But the reality is, I'm not sure any laws will stop mass shootings as long as we're in a country with more than 300 million guns."

Authorities initially identified eight victims: Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; and Lars Kepler Lane, 63.

The ninth victim, 49-year-old Alex Ward Fritch, died at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center on Wednesday night after being transported to the hospital in critical condition, a Santa Clara County news release said.

"Many of us are still very numb from it. We just received notice late last night that the ninth victim has now passed, and this has really extinguished the last hope we had that there might perhaps be someone who had survived from this horrible, horrible act," Liccardo said. "So we've got families who have lost loved ones and co-workers who have lost friends. And I think our task now is to do everything we can to support them and to help them begin the path of healing."

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