Death Toll in West Texas Shooting Climbs to 7


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The New York Times
SOURCE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/01/us/death-toll-texas-shooting.html
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Summary

— A shooting spree that unfolded Saturday afternoon during a chaotic, high-speed police chase in West Texas was not an act of terrorism, law enforcement authorities said as they continued to piece together what had led a gunman to open fire on motorists and police officers while driving along a 15-mile stretch of highways and shopping centers.Still, Odessa police officials said at a news conference Sunday afternoon at the University of Texas Permian Basin that they did not have a clear motive for the attack, which left seven dead and 22 others wounded, their bodies sprawled amid more than 15 crime scenes that scores of law enforcement officers continued to process.[Read more about how the Odessa shooting unfolded.]The authorities initially refused to identify the gunman Sunday, with Michael Gerke, chief of the Odessa Police Department, telling reporters at the news conference that they would not “give him any notoriety for what he did.”They later identified him as Seth Aaron Ator, 36, of Odessa.Chief Gerke said the gunman had used an AR-15-style rifle, but it was not clear Sunday whether it had been acquired legally. In a statement, the department said it was “shocked and saddened” and was working closely with other agencies on the investigation.Three law enforcement officers were among the wounded, as was a 17-month-old toddler who was recovering Sunday from injuries that included shrapnel in her chest.The chief suggested that the gunman may have intended to enter the crowded movie theater in Odessa where the chase ended.“It begs the question, why go to the theater if you’re not planning on entering the theater, and please understand that, on a Saturday afternoon in Odessa, Tex., that is one of the most crowded places to be,” he said.The attack on Saturday spread panic and fear for hours across West Texas, hundreds of miles from the border city of El Paso, where just 28 days earlier a gunman had killed 22 people at a Walmart in an anti-Hispanic attack.Local and state officials said the shooting had begun with the attempted traffic stop on Interstate 20, a busy artery connecting Midland to Odessa.At 3:13 p.m. Saturday, state troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety tried to pull over a man driving a gold car for failing to signal a left turn, the authorities said. Another prohibits school districts from enforcing gun safety rules for staff and visitors who keep firearms or ammunition inside their locked vehicles on school grounds, as long as weapons are not “in plain view.”In a statement that praised the rules last week, the National Rifle Association said the measures were examples of the state legislature and governor “protecting your Second Amendment rights.”Mr. Abbott on Sunday defended those new laws as having been enacted “for the purpose of making our community safer.”President Trump praised police and emergency workers in West Texas on Sunday and called the gunman a “very sick person.”“It’s tragic, but they did an incredible job under the circumstances,” Mr. Trump said after stepping off Marine One on his return to the White House.

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