At least five people were killed and 21 injured in Midland-Odessa, Texas, after a routine traffic stop triggered a deadly shooting rampage that ended when the gunman was slain by officers, police said.
The incident began at about 2 p.m. CST when an assailant described by authorities only as a white male in his mid-30s shot the officer who had pulled him over for a traffic violation, then sped off and started shooting other people. Three officers were among the wounded.
The tragedy shattered a quiet holiday weekend in West Texas and became the latest mass shooting after others earlier this month in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; and Gilroy, California.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement that he would be traveling to the area on Sunday.
“I want to remind all Texans that we will not allow the Lone Star State to be overrun by hatred and violence,” said Abbott.
At one point, the shooter changed vehicles. Video taken by bystanders and broadcast by local TV station CBS7 showed a white U.S. Postal Service van, allegedly hijacked by the suspect at some point in his rampage, crashing into a series of police cars set up to block his progress. The van stopped, and officers quickly approach the van with guns drawn.
Just a few weeks ago, CBS7, which operates from the Music City Mall in Odessa, and the Music City Mall together hosted a blood drive to help victims of the mass shooting in El Paso.
The three officers listed among the injured included one from Midland, one from Odessa and one from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Russell Tippin, CEO of Medical Health Systems hospital, said 14 shooting victims were being cared for at the facility. He declined to give their ages.
“If you hear my voice, you need to hug your families,” he said during a press conference in front of the hospital, which remains on lockdown.
The chaotic situation led to confusion. At one point, online and police reports from the Midland and Odessa area reported two shooters traveling separately – one in a small Toyota truck and the other in a postal service van. But this information proved incorrect.
CBS7 twice had its news anchors clear the set as police officers came through the mall with guns drawn. Later, the anchors said they had to leave the mall entirely, but they continued broadcasting via wireless microphones.
“For the safety of the public and law enforcement, please stay away from the area and stay in your homes,” the Midland Police Department said on Twitter.
The White House was briefed on the situation, the Associated Press reported.
There have been 280 mass shootings in 2019, as defined as involving four or more people injured or killed, excluding the perpetrator, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit that tracks such incidents,
To date, including this shooting, 602 people have died in mass shootings in 2019 and 2,356 have been injured.
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