Federal border security agents previously questioned VTA gunman Samuel Cassidy in 2016 after finding books about terrorism and a notebook filled with notes detailing his hatred for his employer, according to a Wall Street Journal report published Thursday.
U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection agents found “books about terrorism and fear and manifestos…as well as a black memo book filled with lots of notes about how he hates the VTA,” according to a Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by The Wall Street Journal. NBC Bay Area has not independently confirmed the existence of the DHS memo.
Cassidy was returning from the Philippines when he was detained, according to the report, though It’s unclear how long Cassidy was held or where and to whom Homeland Security officials circulated the memo.
But the memo seems to have caught both local and federal law enforcement officials by surprise, many of whom are just learning about it today, according to a law enforcement source who spoke to NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit.
The notebook described in the memos is not the only place where Cassidy allegedly expressed dissatisfaction with his job as a VTA maintenance worker before killing nine of his colleagues.
Cassidy’s ex-girlfriend, who alleged in court records he sexually assaulted her when they dated for six months in 2009, also said he complained about work.
“He had an early shift, very early,” she said. “It was a very stressful job. He was complaining about his boss.”
Northern California Regional Intelligence Center Director Mike Sena said he has not seen the DHS memo and can’t comment on what’s in it but said there’s only so much law enforcement officers can do in response to suspicious but otherwise legal behavior.
“Obviously, I can’t talk about anything related to current investigations,” Director Sena said. “But you know, in the process of reporting suspicious behavior, suspicious criminal activity, we have a program called the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative.”
“In those cases, we have a lot of privacy, civil rights and civil liberties restrictions on data that’s collected,” Sena said. “So, it does have to be criminal in nature.”
Sena said suspicious activity reports that are not indicative of criminal activity or terrorism are purged.
“We can only gather the data that is legally obtained and that fits the criteria, based on that suspicious behavior criteria,” Sena said.
“We’re not allowed to keep data,” Sena said. “In fact, it has to be purged if we receive information, and after it’s been vetted and reviewed, it does not meet the criteria.”
Law enforcement sources who spoke to NBC Bay Area said Cassidy was facing a disciplinary hearing at work that was scheduled for the same morning he opened fire on his co-workers, in some cases at point-blank range.
Cassidy carried out the murders using three handguns equipped with high-capacity magazines that are illegal in California. Law enforcement sources say Cassidy fired more than three dozen rounds, moving methodically from room to room, letting some people go while shooting others at close range.
Special crime scene re-creation teams from FBI headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, will spend the next few days reconstructing exactly what happened, including mapping the many complex scenes and determining the angles and directions of the ballistics. Sources tell NBC Bay Area the shooting happened in several different rooms in both the VTA main maintenance building and adjacent Building “B.”
According to San Jose Fire Department scanner traffic archived on Broadcastify, people on scene were reporting shots still being fired more than 10 minutes after the first 911 call was made.