US in shock after drive-by shooting incident
The victims fell when a man shot seemingly random people as he drove through the West-Texan cities of Odessa and Midland. He had been stopped by police officers for a traffic violation, shot at them and then aimed his weapon at other motorists and passers-by.
One of the traffic officers was injured. The man kept shooting while driving and injured two more officers on his route. Among the injured is also a child of 17 months shot in the face according to local media. The shooter left his own car and stole the van from a mail deliverer. The local police therefore initially reported that a second shooter might have been active.
The perpetrator, a white man around 35, was shot after a chase by the police in the parking lot of a movie theater. Nothing is yet known about his motives. The Odessa police reported in an alarm message that he was shooting at random people. “We think we have the threat under control, but I can’t be 1000 percent sure,” said police chief Michael Gerke.
The man started shooting just after three o’clock in the afternoon local time. He caused fear and chaos in Odessa and Midland. The police urged residents to stay inside, a nearby university was sealed tight. The studio of news channel KOSA-TV in Odessa had to be evacuated during a live broadcast. Residents of Odessa described how various cars with bullet holes were seen at crossroads.
Tiffany Parada’s car was shot at as she passed the gunman’s car on the highway, she told news channel MSNBC. Her four children were sitting in the back seat, her husband was driving.
“We saw the police and it looked like a chase. A little further on we saw the car that was being chased, we moved to the left, and then he got out and started shooting at us. We ended up on the roadside, my husband tried to check the car, we went crazy.”
They stopped to see if the children were okay and tried to warn other motorists, Parada said.
We honked, the windows turned down. We saw him getting closer. I could see in the mirror that he was loading a long weapon.
The family managed to get through the roadside on the adjacent service road and was able to avoid bullets when the man passed a second time and shot at them again.
Junior Bejerano (20), a waiter in a restaurant in Odessa, described to the New York Times how a colleague with First Aid experience helped a little girl in a highchair outside. She seemed shot in the shoulder.
“She was conscious, but completely covered with blood. It was terrible to see that.”
The massacre comes shortly after the massacre of 22 people in a Walmart in El Paso, a city that is located in western Texas, just like Odessa and Midland. The mourning and anger at the umpteenth mass shootout is still fresh in the US.
“Our hearts are with Midland, Odessa, and everyone in West Texas who has to experience this again,” wrote Beto O’Rourke, presidential candidate on behalf of the El Paso Democrats. “More information is forthcoming, but this is what we know: we have to stop this epidemic.”
Vice President Mike Pence also expressed his condolences to the victims. He states in a statement that President Donald Trump and his government “remain absolutely determined to tackle the scourge of mass atrocities in the country.”