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Police Say Texas Gunman Called 911 Before Shootings

Fired employee left work before officers arrived
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 2, 2019 4:15 PM CDT
Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke, left, arrives for a news conference with other officials Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, in Odessa, Texas. The gunman in a spate of violence after a traffic stop in West Texas...   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

(Newser) – The gunman in a spate of gun violence after a routine traffic stop in West Texas called both police and the FBI before the shooting began, authorities said Monday. Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said 36-year-old Seth Aaron Ator had been fired Saturday from Journey Oilfield Services. He said both Ator and the company called 911 after the firing but that the employee was gone by the time police showed up. FBI special agent Christopher Combs says his statements on the phone were "rambling." Authorities said the gunman killed seven people and injured at least 22 others Saturday before officers killed him outside a busy movie theater in Odessa. Combs said that he "was on a long spiral down" before the shooting and that he went to work that day "in trouble." The agent said: "This did not happen because he was fired. He showed up to work enraged."

The place where Ator lived, Combs said, was "a strange residence" that reflected "what his mental state was going into this." Online court records show he was arrested in 2001 on a misdemeanor offense that would not have prevented him from legally purchasing firearms in Texas, although authorities have not said where he got the "AR style" weapon he used. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted Monday that "we must keep guns out of criminals' hands" — words similar to his remarks that followed the mass shooting in El Paso on Aug. 3, when he said firearms must be kept from "deranged killers." But Abbott, a Republican and avid gun rights supporter, has been noncommittal about tightening Texas gun laws. He also tweeted that the gunman failed a previous gun background check and didn't go through one for the weapon he used in Odessa. He did not elaborate.

(Read more mass shootings stories.)

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