9 people dead after shooting at VTA light rail yard in San Jose

VTA shooting
Photo credit KCBS Radio
By and , KCBS Radio

Eight people were killed in a mass shooting at a Valley Transportation Authority light rail yard in San Jose Wednesday morning, not including the gunman.

“This is still ongoing like I said. The numbers can change,” said Santa Clara County Sheriff's Deputy Russell Davis.

Officials received multiple 911 calls just after 6:30 a.m. reporting shots fired.

By 8 a.m. the situation appeared to have been resolved as sheriff's officials confirmed that the male suspect had died.

Davis says officers initiated a rescue operation as part of their active shooter protocol in order to extract people from the facility.

KPIX-5 reports the shooter is dead by suicide.

Davis said several of the victims were VTA employees but could not confirm if the shooter had any connection to the VTA.

“A horrible tragedy has happened today," said Glenn Hendricks, chair of the VTA board, who was visibly shaken as he spoke to the press and issued a message to VTA employees. "We're so sorry that this happened. We are there for you."

Hendricks said while the shooting did happen on the rail yard, which spans multiple acres, it did not occur inside of the control center.

Police now suspect that a two-alarm house fire in East San Jose may be connected to today's shooting. The home on Angmar Court reportedly belongs to the shooter, who is now believed to have set the fire before driving over to the VTA facility.

There is a heavy police presence at the home with a bomb squad, sheriff's deputies, fire crews and the FBI all on scene.

The facility has been evacuated and families are being reunited with their loved ones at the County Building at 70 Hedding St.

“I feel really bad for those people, for the people that lost their family members," said Michael Hawkins, whose mother Rochelle Hawkins works at the facility and was not injured. "It’s terrible. Things happen, don’t know why it happens and why people do the things that they do.”

He said he had just one thing on his mind as he waited to see her.

“Hug her. It’s one of the only things I can do.”

“This is a horrific day for our city, and it’s a tragic day for the VTA family and our hearts pain for the VTA families and coworkers,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Liccardo pledged to take action soon to prevent another tragedy such as this from ever happening again.

"In the next 48 hours I will be back in communication with you to talk about what we’ve been working on in the next year and a half… to ensure a horrific tragedy like this never occurs again in the city of San Jose.”

Hendricks announced that light rail service will be suspended at 12 p.m. Wednesday with buses providing alternative service.

The rail yard is the site of a large VTA control center that stores trains and a maintenance yard. It is also in the heart of the county government complex with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's office, courthouse, Juvenile Hall, San Jose Police Department and the San Jose Airport all located within several blocks.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Tim Ryan/KCBS Radio