Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke breaks down how the Midland and Odessa shootings unfolded.
The gunman who killed seven people and wounded 25 more in a shooting rampage along a west Texas highway Saturday had previously failed a gun background check, but authorities have not yet said how he obtained the firearm he used.
“Not only did the Odessa gunman have a criminal history … he also previously failed a gun purchase background check in Texas,” Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said in tweet Monday.
Abbott added that the shooter did not go through a background check for the firearm used in the shooting.
In Odessa, many will return to their normal routines after the shooting over the holiday weekend sparked fear and chaos there and in Midland.
Here’s what we know Tuesday:
How did the gunman get his firearm?
Police have not said how the shooter obtained the weapon he used.
Online court records show he was arrested in 2001 for a misdemeanor offense, but that would not have prevented him from legally purchasing firearms in Texas.
Abbott has not elaborated on his tweet saying the shooter did not go through a background check for purchasing a firearm to obtain the gun that was used Saturday.
Move over, ‘Friday Night Lights’: Texas shooting brings together Odessa, Permian teens to help survivors
John Wester, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, confirmed the gunman had previously failed a federal background check for a firearm. Wester did not say when or why the check was failed.
Authorities have described the weapon as “AR style.”
Gunman ‘violent, aggressive person,’ neighbor says
In an interview with the Associated Press, neighbor Rocio Gutierrez said the shooter was “a violent, aggressive person.”
Gutierrez said the man would shoot rabbits and other animals at all hours of the night.
“We were afraid of him because you could tell what kind of person he was just by looking at him,” Gutierrez told the news agency. “He was not nice, he was not friendly, he was not polite.”
FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs said the shooter’s home was “a very strange residence” that reflected his mental state.
Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said Monday that the gunman had been fired the morning of the shooting. Both he and his employer at Journey Oilfield Services called 911 to complain, but no threats of violence were made. The gunman later called the FBI’s tipline.
“Can’t speak to his motives or why he called,” Gerke said.
Combs described the calls as “rambling statements about some of the atrocities that he felt that he had gone through.”
A Texas Department of Public Safety officer was unaware of those events when he pulled the gunman over 15 minutes later for failing to signal a turn. The man fired on the trooper during the stop and sped away, beginning his massacre.
“He was on a long spiral of going down,” Combs said. “He didn’t wake up Saturday morning and go into his company and then it happened. He went to that company in trouble and had probably been in trouble for a while.”
The gunman was killed in a shootout with police following his rampage that spanned 10 miles. Authorities say the gunman fired on other motorists and passers-by around the two Texas cities.
Victims names released
The city of Odessa released the names of the victims Monday evening, which ranged from ages 15 to 57.
Leilah Hernandez, 15, celebrated her quinceañera in May, grandmother, Nora Leyva, told the Washington Post. Leilah’s 18-year-old brother, Nathan, was shot in the arm while his arms were around her.
Mary Granados, 29, was a postal worker killed in the gunfire, the U.S. Postal Service confirmed. Rosie Granados, Mary’s sister, told CNN that she heard Mary scream as she was shot while talking on the phone. “It was very painful,” Granados told the news outlet.
Joseph Griffith, 40, was waiting at a traffic light with his wife and two children when he was fatally shot, Carla Byrne – Griffith’s oldest sister – told the Washington Post. “This maniac pulled up next to him and shot him, took away his life, murdered my baby brother,” Griffith told The Post. “Like nothing. We are so broken.”
A postal worker, 15-year-old student: These are the victims killed in Texas shooting
Rodolfo “Rudy” Arco, 57, who owned a trucking company in Odessa, was driving Saturday when three bullets were fired at his truck. Two went through the cab and one came right through the window and killed him instantly, sister Maria Arco said.
Kameron Brown, 30, had survived the deserts of Afghanistan as a U.S. Army soldier. He had worked at Standard Safety & Supply, a first-aid and fire protection service company based in Odessa.
Edwin Peregrino, 25, was visiting his parents in Odessa when he went outside to investigate the sound of gunshots and was hit, The Post reported.
A 35-year-old from El Paso, Raul Garcia, was identified by the city of Odessa as the final victim in Saturday’s mass shooting.
Among the injured were three law enforcement officers: Zachary Owens of the Midland Police Department, James Santana of the Odessa Police Department and Chuck Pryor of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
A 17-month-old girl was also wounded. Abbott read a text from the mother of the child at a news conference Sunday.
“Thank you all for praying, this is all of our worst nightmare, but thank God she’s alive and relatively well,” Abbott said, reading the woman’s message. “She goes on to say that, ‘Toddlers are funny because they can get shot but still want to run around and play.”
Contributing: John C. Moritz, Corpus Christi Caller Times; Molly Duerig and Perry Vandell, Arizona Republic; The Associated Press.
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/09/03/texas-shooting-gunman-weapons-background-check/2195417001/