VTA Yard Shooting

VTA Yard Shooting: Gunshots Appear to Have Continued for 10 Minutes After Initial Calls for Help

A look at the timeline of the shooting

NBC Bay Area

As investigators continue piecing together what led up to a mass shooting at a San Jose railyard Wednesday morning, the timeline for how this tragedy unfolded is becoming clearer. The shooting left 10 people dead, including the gunman. All were employees of the Valley Transportation Authority.

Although law enforcement officials haven’t stated how long gunman Samuel Cassidy’s shooting spree lasted, San Jose Fire dispatch audio recorded on Broadcastify helps fill in those details. Gunshots can be heard during radio communications from crews at the railyard at least ten minutes after first responders were initially called to help.

Here’s what we’ve been able to confirm about the timeline of events so far:

5:40 a.m.

Surveillance video shared by a neighbor to NBC Bay Area and other media outlets shows the gunman, Samuel Cassidy, at around 5:40 a.m. on May 26 at his San Jose home at the 1100 block of Angmar Court. He was wearing his VTA uniform and departed after loading a black bag into his pickup truck. His home address is around eight miles from the VTA railyard where he worked, a distance that could have taken around 12 minutes to drive without traffic.

In a YouTube video, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office says that Cassidy began the shooting incident at the VTA building B on the west side and proceeded to walk towards VTA building A on the east side. However the sheriff's office noted the time stamp depicted on their video is not accurate.

6:33 a.m.

A spokesperson for the San Jose Fire Department said the first call the San Jose Fire Department received to respond to the rail yard came in at 6:33 a.m. According to dispatch audio, that first call doesn't mention the words “active shooting” but directs two engines to head to the light rail maintenance yard. The next call for the railyard location comes around three minutes later, with the dispatcher stating there is an “active shooter” “with eight employees” at the light rail maintenance yard. The dispatcher says employees are evacuating to the parking lot, police are at the scene and that there may be active gunshots.

Minutes later, the dispatcher describes the railyard scene as a “mass casualty incident.”

6:36 a.m.

The San Jose Fire Department then dispatches units to another incident at 6:36 a.m.: a house fire on Angmar Court. First responders later learned this was the house where Cassidy lived.  

Investigators later revealed Cassidy filled a pot on a lit stove with ammunition and surrounded by accelerants.

Sheriff Detective Sergeant Joseph Piazza said, "it is likely that the ammunition in that pot would have heated to a point where the powders inside would have detonated and likely ignited the accelerants."

Friday, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office said a dozen guns, around 25,000 rounds of ammunition, suspected Molotov cocktails, and multiple cans of gasoline were found inside the suspect's home.

Shortly after the Angmar fire was reported on the scanner, the dispatcher reports more gunfire at the scene and that the shooter was possibly on the third floor, though it was unclear which building. Minutes later, the dispatcher shares an update from police: that there were six individuals who may be deceased, and one barely breathing.

Dispatchers report the final sounds of gunshots around 10 minutes after the initial 911 call was made at the railyard.

Another 10 or 11 minutes go by until a dispatcher says “[police are] advising the scene is secure.” The announcement comes shortly before 7 a.m.

According to scanner audio, firefighters were asked to put on vests and helmets, eventually entering the scene once police had confirmed the scene was secure and the “shooter is down.”

A spokesperson for the San Jose Fire Department explained that the incident log doesn’t specify the official time when the shooter was declared “down” or the scene was secure.

7:12 a.m.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office posted on Twitter that its deputies were on the scene of an active shooter at the railyard, advising the public to stay away.

8:08 a.m.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office posted on Twitter saying, “shooter is down.”

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