On Wednesday, President Joe Biden ordered the flag at the White House to be lowered to half-staff to honor the nine individuals who lost their lives at the light rail yard in the tragic mass shooting in San Jose, California.
Biden also issued a one-word plea to lawmakers: “Enough.” He then said Congress should immediately take action.
The president suggested that lawmakers must “heed the call of the American people, including the vast majority of gun owners, to help end this epidemic of gun violence in America.”
Since taking office in January, Biden has made gun control a cornerstone of his agenda and has used these isolated incidents to push home the message.
“Every life that is taken by a bullet pierces the soul of our nation,” Biden said in a statement. “We can, and we must, do more.”
Biden directed the White House flag, as well as those at all other federal properties, to be flown at half-staff until Sunday’s sunset.
Warning Signs Were There
Additional details began to emerge on Thursday, less than a day after the San Jose shooting claimed nine lives. The suspect was identified as 57-year-old Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) employee Sam James Cassidy. He reportedly had two semi-automatic handguns, but the exact models have not been disclosed.
He also reportedly had eleven loaded magazines, while law enforcement officials said a fire in his house began around the same time he began his shooting spree – suggesting he had some way to set it off either remotely or via a timer.
“What we’re operating under now, and I’m not sure this isn’t going to change, is that he set some kind of device to go off at a certain time probably to coincide with his shooting,” Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said during an appearance Thursday morning on NBC’s Today Show.
The gunman was believed to have known the nine individuals he fatally shot. Cassidy had reportedly worked for VTA since 2012, first as a mechanic and then as someone who maintained the substations.
According to FoxNews.com and other news outlets, Cassidy’s ex-wife said the alleged shooter had talked about killing people at work more than a decade ago.
“I never believed him, and it never happened. Until now,” Cecilia Nelms told the Associated Press on Wednesday. She added that he was often angry and resentful over what he perceived to be unfair assignments.
An ex-girlfriend also described Cassidy as volatile and violent and said he was prone to serious mood swings because of a bipolar disorder, which was made worse by his heavy drinking. Cassidy had reportedly forced himself on the unnamed ex-girlfriend several times while drunk, according to a 2009 sworn statement filed after Cassidy sought a restraining order against her.
Given these details, it is unclear how Cassidy could have legally obtained the two handguns.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.