Texas gunman fired from job before rampage, threatened neighbor with rifle in past

Screen capture … Cell phone footage showed the end of the rampage … Credit: CNN

Seth Ator, the shooter who killed seven people in Texas on Saturday, had been fired from his trucking job just hours before, according to The New York Times.

Along a 15-mile corridor delineating the high-speed police chase and Ator’s shooting rampage between Midland and Odessa, authorities identified more than 15 crime scenes where he fired upon police officers and other motorists. Car dealerships and shopping malls were among the crime scenes. The shootings and subsequent chase began at about 3 p.m. when Texas state troopers pulled Ator over for making a left-hand turn without signaling.

At some point during the shooting spree, Ator killed a mail carrier and hijacked her vehicle. He was eventually killed by police in a movie theater parking lot in Odessa.

In interviews, officials said that the gunman had been fired from his job with a trucking company on Saturday morning. However, they also said they had yet to determine a clear motive to help explain the level of violence.

“There are no definite answers as to motive or reasons at this point,” Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said, “but we are fairly certain that the subject did act alone.”

Ator had a criminal record, but there were no open warrants for his arrest, Gerke said. He had been arrested in August 2001 in McLennan County on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and evading arrest, according to state records.

Witnesses to the end of the chase Joey and Julie Vicknair filmed the police firing upon Ator’s vehicle and killing him in the Cinergy movie theater parking lot …

Video by CNN

In another development, CNN reported that a neighbor of Ator, Veronica Alonzo, said he threatened her with a rifle for leaving trash in a nearby dumpster and that police failed to respond to her calls because the property location does not show up on GPS and is difficult to find.

Alonzo told her how he would shoot animals in his backyard from on top of his house. She also said that the shooter’s home did not have electricity or running water.

“Red flags”

CNN anchor Ana Cabrera asked former Secret Service agent Jonathan Wacrow about his impressions from the latest reports about the shooter and he seized on the buzzphrase of the day — “red flags.” Gun control supporters are pushing lawmakers to adopt controversial “red flag” gun laws across the country that allow police, family members, and others to initiate sudden gun seizures without normal due process in a court of law.

“All red flags. Everything that we have heard about this individual that’s been released, they’re all behavioral red flags,” said Wacrow. “What I think will happen is we will see this individual had violent tendencies for a long time. Just lashed out. There was some sort of trigger at the moment of the traffic stop that led him to transcend into the continuum of this problem.”

“We have to take a whole community approach. The fact that a neighbor called the police on this one incident and they didn’t act, that has to be fully investigated,” Wacrow continued. “We say, we clearly see there was a leading indicator of the propensity for violence. We need to stop that before someone transcends into an act of mass shooting and it creates these horrific events.”

Watch that CNN segment below:

Video by CNN


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