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Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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Grief sets in at California rail yard after gunman kills 8 co-workers

A transit employee shot eight co-workers to death and was himself killed at a commuter rail yard in San Jose, California, on Wednesday (May 26), authorities said, in the latest burst of deadly mass gun violence to grip the United States.

Dozens of people with ties to the victims were receiving assistance at a family reunification and support center, officials said.

Santa Clara County activated the support center within hours of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) employee opening fire on his co-workers. Officials said the gunman died but did not say how the gunman died or whether police officers fired their weapons at the scene. The name and age of the suspect were also not disclosed.

The first emergency calls reporting the shooting at the VTA light rail yard near the city’s main airport came through shortly after 6:30 a.m. Pacific Time (1330 GMT). A bomb squad was searching the yard after at least one explosive device was found, officials said.

Outside the family reunification center, people were seen coming and going, with some declining to comment until the safety of their family members had been confirmed.

Kasey Halcon, director of the victim’s services for the district attorney’s office, said family members were receiving care and support from victim’s advocates and counselors.

“There’s a lot of grief and a lot of uncertainty, there’s also a lot of community support. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that our community has been through something like this,” Halcon said.

A therapy animal team was also seen entering the building to provide support to victims.

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez offered her support and condolences for those she hailed as heroes.

“During COVID-19, public transportation here was really the backbone for so many people who couldn’t get to work any other way. They were essential workers helping essential workers. We lauded them as heroes. Now we’re asking them to be heroes in an event that was unspeakable,” Chavez said.

Mass shootings are common in the United States, which has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world. A spate of incidents have unfolded as the country has started to emerge from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were shot dead in a string of attacks at day spas in and around Atlanta, and less than a week later, 10 people were killed at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado.

(Production: Nathan Frandino)

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