The man who authorities say fatally shot nine people Wednesday morning in San Jose, California, had a history of mood swings, two people who knew him said, and he opened fire on his coworkers at a public transit agency at about the same time his home went up in flames.
The suspected gunman in the latest spate of American gun violence has been identified as Sam Cassidy, a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation confirmed to CNN.
The shooter did not exchange gunfire with officers who responded to the shooting, according to police, and it has been initially determined he died by suicide. Authorities have yet to establish a motive for the shooting, but court documents and interviews with those who knew the gunman describe a man with anger issues dating back at least a decade.
Here is what we know about him:
He was a public transit employee
Cassidy was an employee at the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. The VTA is a public transit service that operates bus and light rail services in the Santa Clara Valley and employs about 2,000 workers.
The shooting took place at about 6:30 a.m. PT at a VTA light rail yard in San Jose as employees were starting trains up for the day, authorities said. Law enforcement officers quickly arrived to the scene but did not exchange gunfire with the shooter, who investigators believe fatally shot himself.
“I know for sure that when the suspect knew the law enforcement was there, he took his own life. Our deputies were right there at that time,” said Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith.
The victims, VTA employees ranging in age from 29 to 63, were coworkers with the shooter.
“It’s clear the victims and all the colleagues knew the shooter well,” Liccardo told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday.
Smith said the victims worked together and were there in the morning. Liccardo described them as “essential workers” who risked their lives and showed up to work throughout the pandemic.
Suspect had guns and ‘precursor’ to explosives
The gunman had two semi-automatic handguns and 11 magazines on him, Smith told CNN’s Josh Campbell.
“I don’t know if he reloaded. I don’t know the number of rounds that he fired, but of the people who were injured, none survived,” she said. “They were handguns of the type that would be legal in California.”
In addition, a house that erupted in flames Wednesday morning around the same time as the shooting is believed to be the gunman’s home, a source close to the investigation told CNN.
City property records indicate Cassidy lived at 1178 Angmar Court. The San Jose Fire Department said firefighters responded at a home in the 1100 block of Angmar Court at 6:36 a.m. local time, just minutes after police were called about the VTA shooting about 8 miles away.
It took firefighters about an hour to extinguish the two-alarm fire, which caused heavy damage and left the structure uninhabitable, the fire department said.
During a sweep of the VTA crime scene, bomb-sniffing dogs alerted to the suspect’s locker and found “precursor things for explosives,” Smith said. Another bomb squad searching his home found additional rounds of ammo, Smith said.
She said the precursor devices included detonation pulls and “a lot more” found at the house but she could not go into detail on the materials found.
Surveillance video obtained by CNN shows a man identified as Cassidy leaving his home on Wednesday morning with a duffle bag. A neighbor, who did not want to be named, said the video was captured around 5:40 a.m. and showed Cassidy leaving the house in a truck. The neighbor described Cassidy as a “quiet” and “strange” man.
The women in his life said he had anger issues
Cassidy had a strained relationship with an ex-girlfriend, court documents show, which revealed troubling allegations she made in a filing in 2009 as she responded to a restraining order he filed against her.
The woman says she dated Cassidy for approximately one year in what she said became an off-and-on-again relationship after about six months.
She described Cassidy as having mood swings that were “exacerbated when (Cassidy) consumed large quantities of alcohol,” she said in the court document, and she alleged he had bipolar disorder.
She said he enjoyed playing mind games with her, according to the court document.
“Several times during the relationship he became intoxicated, enraged and forced himself on me sexually,” said the former girlfriend, who CNN is not naming and is reaching out to for comment.
Cassidy’s ex-wife, Cecilia Nelms, told CNN affiliate the Bay Area News Group he resented his work. Nelms was married to Cassidy for about 10 years until the couple filed for divorce in 2005. She has not been in touch with her ex-husband for about 13 years, according to the outlet.
“He had two sides,” Nelms said. “When he was in a good mood he was a great guy. When he was mad, he was mad.”
He often spoke angrily about his coworkers and bosses, and at times directed his anger at her, Nelms told the outlet.
When the two were married, he “resented what he saw as unfair work assignments” and “would rant about his job when he got home,” she said.
“He just thought that some people got more easy-going things at work, and he’d get the harder jobs,” she said.