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8 Victims Killed In Shooting At San Jose, Calif., Rail Yard

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In San Jose, Calif., a gunman opened fire at a local light rail control facility early this morning. Nine people, including the gunman, are dead. Here is Santa Clara sheriff's department spokesperson Russell Davis speaking in front of the Valley Transportation Authority, or VTA, building where the shootings took place.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RUSSELL DAVIS: I will confirm to you that it is a VTA employee, that the suspect is a VTA employee. That's all the information I give you. It's still developing, and we're still trying - an ongoing investigation. We're trying to figure out what happened.

SHAPIRO: Joining us now from San Jose is reporter Ezra David Romero with member station KQED.

Good to have you here.

EZRA DAVID ROMERO, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

SHAPIRO: What do we know so far about what happened?

ROMERO: Well, just after 6:30 local time this morning, a call about shots fired at the Valley Transportation Authority came in to 911. This building is basically where trains are stored, and it also has a control center for the entire light rail system. By 7 a.m., deputies told people to stay away from the building. About an hour later, sheriffs said the shooter was down, and bomb-sniffing dogs indicated there could be explosives at the site. They were able to locate some of them, and authorities are continuing to look for more possible bombs.

SHAPIRO: How much is known about the victims?

ROMERO: Well, there were multiple victims - the nine fatalities, including the gunman, plus multiple major injuries with people hospitalized. They are all employees of the light rail authority. There are - no names of the victims or the alleged gunman have been released yet. And there's also this reunification center for victims' families near the light rail facility. I spoke with one person, a local city councilmember, who said he wanted to know if his good friend was OK. All he knew was that his - this was a place to come to find out any information about victims. Here's Raul Peralez.

RAUL PERALEZ: My thoughts went, you know, to his whereabouts, and that's actually why I'm here as well today because we still haven't been able to be in contact with him. I know his family is coming here.

ROMERO: Other family members of employees have been coming here throughout the day to find their loved ones. They have grief and trauma counselors for both the employees and the family members I've talked to. And a county supervisor points out that all these people - the victims - they were essential workers throughout the pandemic, that they came to work every day so that people could move around and go about their lives and their work in the Bay Area. And it was especially sad that this happened since they were already risking their lives to come to work because of the pandemic.

SHAPIRO: We heard that spokesperson at the top say the suspect is a VTA employee. What more is known about him?

ROMERO: At this point, they're saying very little while they're still investigating. What they will say is that the alleged shooter was a male employee for the transit authority. But what we don't know at this point is his motive or if he was targeting specific colleagues at the facility.

SHAPIRO: Still so many unanswered questions - can you tell us what the next steps are?

ROMERO: Yeah. There are several agencies, including the sheriff, the police, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, as well as the FBI - they're all investigating. The area is still active, and they're making sure there are no more bombs. Federal authorities say the crime scene is very large, and it will take a significant amount of time to process. Remember; this is essentially a train station or train yard. San Jose's mayor says this has been a horrific day for the city, and he raised gun control and gun availability as issues he can - he's really concerned about. And also, California Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted that his office was in close contact with law enforcement, and he was monitoring the situation as well. So it's on everybody's minds.

SHAPIRO: That is reporter Ezra David Romero of KQED in San Jose, Calif.

Thank you very much.

ROMERO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.