At least 5 people killed after shooting spree in west Texas

At least five people were dead after a mass shooting in west Texas, authorities said Saturday. The gunman was killed and three law enforcement officers were among the injured.

Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said that in addition to the injured officers, there were at least 21 civilians injured. He said at least five people died.

He described the suspected gunman as a white male in his 30s, and that he was shot and killed at the Cinergy movie theatre in Odessa. Gerke did not say whether the suspect was among the five people he said are dead.

The shooting began with a traffic stop where gunfire was exchanged with police, setting off a chaotic afternoon in which police reported that a suspect hijacked a U.S. Postal Service vehicle and began firing at random in the area of Odessa and Midland, hitting multiple people.

Cell phone video showed people running out the movie theatre, and as Odessa television station KOSA aired breaking developments on live TV, their broadcast was interrupted by police telling them they had to clear the area.

Police initially reported that there could have been more than one shooter, but Gerke said authorities now believe it was one shooter.

“Once this individual was taken out of the picture, there have been no more victims,” Gerke said.

Watch: Odessa police chief recounts timeline of shooting

Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke provides an update on a shooting in west Texas that left at least five people dead and 21 injured. 6:07

Russell Tippin, CEO of Medical Center Hospital in Odessa, said 14 shooting victims were being treated at the hospital Saturday evening but he did not give their conditions or other information about the victims.

Social workers and professional counselors are at the hospital to provide support to the families of shooting victims, Tippin said. He also said the hospital has been locked down for that safety of the staff and patients.

“Right now the hospital is stable, it’s secure,” Tippin said.

Dustin Fawcett was sitting in his truck at a Starbucks in Odessa when he heard at least six gunshots ring out less than 45 metres behind him.


Odessa and Midland police and sheriff’s deputies surround a white van in Odessa. (Tim Fischer/Midland Reporter-Telegram via AP)

At first, he thought it might have been a tire blowing but he heard more shots and spotted a white sedan with a passenger window that had been shattered. That’s when he thought, “Oh man, this is a shooting.”

Fawcett, 28, an Odessa transportation consultant, “got out to make sure everyone was safe” but found that no one had been struck by the gunfire nearby. He said a little girl was bleeding, but she hadn’t been shot, and that he found out she was grazed in the face.

Fawcett said authorities responded quickly and when police pulled out their rifles and vests he knew that “this is not a drive-by. This is something else, this is something bigger.”

4 weeks after El Paso shooting

The shooting comes just weeks after a gunman in the Texas border city of El Paso killed 22 people after opening fire at a Walmart. This past week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott held two meetings with lawmakers about how to prevent more mass shootings in Texas. He said he would visit the area Sunday.

Vice-President Mike Pence said following the shooting that President Donald Trump and his administration “remain absolutely determined” to work with leaders in both parties in Congress to take such steps “so we can address and confront this scourge of mass atrocities in our country.”

Preparing to fly to Poland, Pence told reporters that Trump is “fully engaged” and closely monitoring the investigation. He said, “Our hearts go out to all the victims, the families and loved ones.” He also commended law enforcement “for their swift, courageous response.”

Pence said Trump has deployed the federal government in response to the shootings. He says Trump has spoken to the attorney general and that the FBI is already assisting local law enforcement.

Odessa is about 32 kilometres southwest of Midland. Both are more than 480 kilometres west of Dallas.


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