Frantic audio recordings detail chaos as killer carried out VTA mass shooting
SAN JOSE, Calif. - The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority released audio transmissions on Monday rom a mass shooting that unfolded at a light rail yard in San Jose.
Phone calls and radio recordings from the chaotic scene provide more insight into the fateful day that sent employees scrambling for safety, and left nine of them dead.
"We have shots fired in Building B at Guadeloupe," a VTA supervisor is heard saying in one of the audio recordings.
Nearly 200 audio clips tell the frantic, fearful, and fatal events that occurred on May 26.
An active shooter prompted VTA supervisors to stop all light rail trains, and call for help. Shooting suspect and VTA employee Sam Cassidy walked from one building to the next inside the Guadeloupe yard on West Younger Avenue and North San Pedro Street.
He killed nine of his coworkers. Others in harm’s way called the VTA emergency line, asking for police and sheriff’s deputies to be dispatched to the scene.
SEE ALSO: Personnel files of Sam Cassidy, San Jose shooter, released by VTA
"This is 773," said a VTA employee, giving his code designation while on the job inside the rail yard.
"773, what’s going on?" the supervisor replied.
"I think here in our building, Building B, one of the guys said there’s a shooter," the rattled employee said.
"Yeah that’s right," said the supervisor, apparently trying to remain calm.
"Okay, I’m just letting you guys know," the unidentified employee said.
"Okay. Be safe man. Figure it out, but don’t go there, or near it," said the supervisor, referring to Building B. "Whoever’s with you, secure the doors," he continued.
Then a few minutes later on the recording, another employee says, "We just heard the shots over in the power department."
"In power? And it sounded just like a gun?" asked another supervisor.
"Oh it’s a gun," said the employee.
"How many shots were fired?" asks the supervisor.
"At least 10 or 15, and people were screaming over there," said the second, unidentified employee.
The light rail was halted in place with orders that no trains enter the yard. Workers who were still in the yard were told to get inside trains that weren't in service and to shut the doors. All this, as first responders entered the rail yard to confront the lethal threat.
"Is there an active shooter in the yard?," a first responder yelled to the VTA supervisor over a two-way radio.
"Yes," responds the supervisor.
"Then I’m coming in the yard. I’m armed," the first responder replies.
A few minutes later, another first responder calls out on the two-way radio with sirens wailing in the background, "This is swat at 3-2-1. Are you guys OK?" he asked in a rushed tone.
SEE ALSO: VTA shooting survivor describes helplessness as co-workers perished
"Whoever it is, is up on the third floor," said the VTA supervisor.
Sheriff’s deputies and San Jose police officers entered the yard and began searching for Cassidy. As instructions were relayed to train operators and mechanics, shots can be heard in the background.
"Trains 31," the supervisor says before his radio call is interrupted by the distinct sound of two shots being fired. He then continues after a long pause, "Train 31!"
A third VTA employee inside the rail yard is heard yelling over the audio recording, "Someone’s shooting upstairs right outside the door!"
Ultimately Cassidy, who was found sitting in a stairwell on the third floor of Building B, took his own life as law enforcement approached him. Eight employees died at the scene. One passed away in a hospital emergency room.
Cassidy is described by co-workers as a disgruntled and angry loner. He had multiple run-ins with fellow employees, with more than one leading to intervention by the HR department.
The 57-year-old had expressed hatred for VTA, but investigators said what sparked his anger leading to May’s mass shooting still isn’t clear.