A gunman in West Texas who killed five people while firing from his vehicle and then from a hijacked mail truck was shot and killed by police in a gun battle in a movie theater parking lot, authorities said Saturday.
At least 21 people were injured, including some who were wounded by the shooter, Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said at a news conference. Gerke said three law enforcement officers were injured: one from the Department of Public Safety, one officer from the Midland Police Department and one officer from Odessa Police Department.
Gerke said the shooter was identified as a white male in his 30s. His name and a motive were not given.
Gerke said the incident began at 3:17 p.m. CT (4:17 p.m. ET) when a Department of Public Safety officer attempted to make a traffic stop on a gold Honda. When the vehicle came to a stop, the driver shot the officer, he said.
The driver traveled west into Odessa and shot another person, then continued through the city where “there were multiple victims,” the chief said. The shooter abandoned his vehicle at one point, stole a mail truck and shot at more people, Gerke said.
The shooter then drove toward the Cinergy movie theater, where he and police officers exchanged gunfire in the parking lot and the man was killed, the chief said.
Witness to the shooting
Alex Wood said he drove up to the theater complex and saw a large number of police vehicles.
“Next thing you know, I hear a pop, so, I flip the camera to where the theaters at and I just see a bunch of gunfire going off,” he said CNN.
“I could see the officer walking up to the mail van and discharging his weapon into it, and I believe that is when the shooter was killed,” he said.
The conditions of those injured were not immediately known. Fourteen people were being treated at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa, Texas, according to CEO Russell Tippin. No ages or conditions were provided. The hospital has a family staging area with grief counselors and social workers to provide support, Tippin said.
Shooting happened four weeks after El Paso
This is the second mass shooting in Texas in August. Only four weeks ago, a gunman killed 22 people in a mass shooting in El Paso, about 285 miles west of Odessa. Politicians quickly responded.
President Trump tweeted, “Just briefed by Attorney General Barr about the shootings in Texas. FBI and Law Enforcement is fully engaged. More to follow.”
Vice President Mike Pence told reporters, “Our hearts go out to all the victims and families who had loved ones lose their lives.”
Pence said he and the President are “determined to work with leaders in both parties in congress to take steps that we can address and confront this scourge of mass atrocity in our country.”
Democratic presidential candidate and Texas native Beto O’Rourke on Saturday reacted to news of this mass shooting by proclaiming, “We need to end this epidemic.”
“Our hearts are with Midland, Odessa, and everyone in West Texas who has to endure this again. More information is forthcoming, but here’s what we know: We need to end this epidemic,” he tweeted.
FBI and other agencies responding
Earlier in the day, authorities thought there might be two shooters, firing from two vehicles. Devin Sanchez, a spokesman for the City of Odessa, said someone in a gold Toyota was driving around shopping centers and shooting people from his vehicle.
A law enforcement official told CNN that agents from the FBI’s Midland office are responding to assist with the incident. The Midland office is a satellite office of the FBI’s El Paso division.
The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Dallas tweeted that agents would respond to the shooting.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a statement Saturday, saying:
“The First Lady and I are heartbroken over this senseless and cowardly attack, and we offer our unwavering support to the victims, their families, and all the people of Midland and Odessa. The state of Texas and the Department of Public Safety are working closely with local law enforcement to provide resources as needed and deliver justice for this heinous attack.”
Cinergy Entertainment Group, which operates five entertainment centers in Texas and Oklahoma, said in a statement Saturday that they are “grateful for the swift response from local authorities and first responders throughout the Midland/Odessa community.”