By TERENCE CHEA and JANIE HAR, SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Taptejdeep Singh died trying to save others from a gunman. Kirk Bertolet saw some of his co-workers take their last breaths.
Friends, family and survivors were mourning nine men killed this week when a disgruntled employee hauling a duffel bag full of guns and ammunition opened fire at a California rail yard complex, apparently choosing his targets and sparing others.
Investigators were still trying to determine what might have set off Cassidy, who for years apparently held a grudge against his workplace. San Jose police said Friday that they determined a suspicious package at his home was safe. But investigators believe he set a timer or slow-burn device to start a fire at the house at the same time he attacked his co-workers.
The victims were Alex Ward Fritch, 49; Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; and Lars Kepler Lane, 63.
The minutes-long attack was marked by both horror and heroism.
Singh, the father of a 3-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter, was on an early shift as a light rail operator when the shooting began.
He called another transit employee to warn him, saying he needed to get out or hide.
“From what I’ve heard, he spent the last moments of his life making sure that others — in the building and elsewhere — would be able to stay safe,” co-worker Sukhvir Singh, who is not related to Taptejdeep Singh, said in a statement.
Bagga Singh said he was told that his cousin “put a lady in a control room to hide,” The Mercury News in San Jose reported. “He saved her and rushed down the stairway.”
Singh’s brother-in-law, P.J. Bath, said he was told Singh was killed after encountering the gunman in a stairwell.
“He just happened to be in the way, I guess,” Bath said.
Bertolet, 64, was just starting his shift when shots rang out, then he heard the screams. He and his co-workers threw a table in front of their door, and Bertolet called the control center.
Then there was silence.
Cautiously, Bertolet left the barricaded office, hoping he could offer first aid. He couldn’t.
Bertolet, a signal maintenance worker who worked in a separate unit from Cassidy, said he is convinced Cassidy targeted his victims, because he didn’t hurt some people he encountered.
“He was pissed off at certain people. He was angry, and he took his vengeance out on very specific people. He shot people. He let others live,” he said.
Glenn Hendricks, chairman of the transit authority’s board of directors, said he had no information about any tensions between Cassidy and the co-workers he shot.
Cassidy fired 39 bullets. Camera footage showed him calmly walking from one building to another with his duffel bag to complete the slaughter, authorities said.
“It appears to us at this point that he said to one of the people there: ‘I’m not going to shoot you,’” Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said. “And then he shot other people. So I imagine there was some kind of thought on who he wanted to shoot.”
Cassidy’s ex-wife said he had talked about killing people at work more than a decade ago. Cecilia Nelms told The Associated Press that he used to come home from work resentful and angry over what he perceived as unfair assignments.
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