L.A. STORIES -Essential California 5.27.2021: A mass shooting in San Jose

Essential California


 the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, May 27. I’m Matt Hamilton, an investigative reporter with the Los Angeles Times.

At a San Jose light rail yard, a gunman opened fire Wednesday morning and killed nine people before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It is California’s deadliest mass shooting this year.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who met with relatives of the victims, decried the “sameness and a numbness to these incidents” and pleaded for the shootings to stop.

“What the hell’s going on in the United States of America? What the hell’s wrong with us? And when are we going to come to grips with this?” Newsom said at a news briefing.

Times reporter Richard Winton was among the team of journalists covering the deadly shooting in San Jose, and we asked him for the latest info on the unfolding tragedy.

What do we know about what led to Wednesday’s shooting?

The gunman worked at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s light rail yard in San Jose. Before leaving for work, he lit his home on fire, according to our law enforcement sources. There’s video of him from a neighbor’s security camera placing a large black duffle bag into a truck outside his home. He is seen wearing a uniform.

He then went to work on Wednesday morning and was carrying weapons with him. Before the start of the workday, there was a union meeting taking place. The gunman walked into the area and opened fire, and nine people later died. Do we know his specific motive? Not yet. But the only people he appeared to target were those he worked with.


Federal agents outside a home under investigation in connection to a shooting at a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority facility in San Jose. (Noah Berger / Associated Press)

What do we know about the victims?

We know that he shot virtually everyone on the morning shift. Late Wednesday night, the medical examiner-coroner in Santa Clara County identified the victims as Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; Alex Ward Fritch, 49; and Lars Kepler Lane, 63.

Who was the gunman and what do we know about him?

Samuel Cassidy was a 57-year-old substation maintenance worker at the Valley Transportation Authority. It appears he also had other roles at the agency, but we can only see public records going back to 2012. At this stage, authorities haven’t even officially identified Cassidy as the gunman, but The Times has confirmed his identity through law enforcement sources. Before working for the VTA, it appears Cassidy worked in the auto industry.

Were there any red flags about the gunman before the mass shooting?

In 2009, Cassidy sought a restraining order against a former girlfriend, claiming this ex-girlfriend had grabbed and threatened him. But when that girlfriend responded to the restraining order request, she submitted an affidavit in which she said he had sexually assaulted her and that he also suffered from mood swings on account of his bipolar disorder. The girlfriend also said he became violent when he drank heavily.

[Read “A fire, bomb threat and mass shooting rattle San Jose” in the Los Angeles Times]

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

The city of Compton is accusing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department of “rampant fraud,” claiming it ripped the city off by charging for police patrol work that never occurred. In a legal claim filed with the county — a procedural step before a lawsuit is filed — attorneys for Compton said the sheriff’s deputies were falsifying records that purported to show deputies patrolling the city, even though they were not actually in the field.

Compton, like more than 40 other cities in L.A. County, pays the Sheriff’s Department more than $22 million a year to provide policing services and in exchange, deputies are contractually obligated to spend a certain amount of time doing patrol work on Compton’s streets. “What is happening is fraudulent billing,” said Jamon Hicks, an attorney representing the city. “What that means is that we have deputies that are saying they’re at locations that they’re not at.”

In a news conference Wednesday, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the department was conducting an audit of the records, but he disputed there was a “grand conspiracy” at play. Villanueva added, “To call it a fraud, that might be a little bit of a stretch.” Los Angeles Times


Ads by: Memento Maxima Digital Marketing
@[email protected]



Mayor Eric Garcetti is probably India-bound. President Biden is likely to nominate Garcetti to be the next ambassador to India, a person familiar with the vetting process told Times reporters Eli Stokols and Dakota Smith. Biden has not named anyone to fill ambassador posts, and instead plans to announce his list of nominees at once — thus the ongoing speculation that has encircled the political future of L.A.’s current mayor. Garcetti’s departure could set off a special election or the L.A. City Council could appoint someone to temporarily fill the seat. Garcetti’s term runs until December 2022. Los Angeles Times

Echo Park Lake reopens. After a two-month closure, Echo Park Lake reopened Wednesday. Within minutes, residents filled the park and swan boats returned to the lake, with people eager to enjoy the cloudless sky and beautiful weather. Officials vowed that tents will not be allowed to set up at the park any time soon, and that park rangers planned to conduct routine sweeps at 10:30 p.m. to prevent camping. A fence now encircles the park, and each night, rangers will lock the fence’s four gates, blocking entry. Los Angeles Times


Visitors take rides in swan boats as Echo Park Lake reopens to the public. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)


As the drought worsens, Southern California’s biggest water supplier gets a new leader — and a brewing power battle. Directors of the Metropolitan Water District, which delivers huge amounts of water from the Colorado River and Northern California to a vast swath of Southern California, voted this month to select Adel Hagekhalil to lead the agency, The Times’ environment reporter, Sammy Roth, has learned. Hagekhalil runs L.A.’s Bureau of Street Services and was previously second in command at the city’s sanitation department.

But there is a behind-the-scenes power struggle at the agency that could derail the plan to offer Hagekhalil a contract. Hagekhalil’s detractors see him as too inexperienced in Western water politics to lead an agency whose work makes life possible in Southern California, especially as climate change brings higher temperatures, more evaporation and diminished snowpack. Los Angeles Times

Meet Norma Torres, the Democratic congresswoman from Pomona (and former LAPD dispatcher). Torres is also the only congressional member who was born in Central America. The 56-year-old has no qualms about speaking her mind on immigration issues and political corruption, and she’s gained a reputation for lobbing colorful epithets at Central American political leaders. Her blunt talk over Twitter with the president of El Salvador — whom she derided as a “narcissistic dictator” — has drawn so much anger, she now sleeps with a 9-mm pistol at her side. Los Angeles Times


A second man has been arrested after an L.A. sushi restaurant attack that’s under investigation as a suspected hate crime. A Whittier man, Samer Jayylusi, was taken into custody early Tuesday in Anaheim and booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. He is the second man arrested in connection with the May 18 attack on diners outside Sushi Fumi on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Grove. According to the LAPD, detectives will recommend hate crime charges against Jayylusi. Los Angeles Times

An L.A. County sheriff’s deputy has been charged with murder in an off-duty crash. Los Angeles County prosecutors charged Daniel Auner, 23, with one felony count each of murder and reckless driving on a highway for a crash last summer at Crenshaw Boulevard and 190th Street in Torrance. Auner’s 23-year-old passenger died after the off-duty sheriff’s deputy was speeding and smashed into a traffic pole, prosecutors say. Los Angeles Times.



Ads by: Memento Maxima Digital Marketing
@[email protected]



California’s next coronavirus challenge: a vast gulf in vaccination rates across the state. In San Francisco, Marin, Alpine, Santa Clara, San Diego and San Mateo counties, more than 65% of each area’s residents have received at least one vaccine dose, according to data gathered by The Times. On the opposite end of the spectrum: Lassen, Tehama, Kings, Modoc and Yuba counties each have partial-vaccination rates of less than one-third. A generally high statewide level of vaccination — 53.4% of Californians have gotten at least one shot to date — may be enough to ward off another devastating surge, but there is concern that the coronavirus could still flare up in areas where coverage is low. Los Angeles Times

In Northern California, there’s a battle over water between marijuana farmers of Asian descent and predominantly white law enforcement. Authorities in Siskiyou County have begun to aggressively enforce ordinances that prohibit well owners from selling and transporting water to local marijuana farms, which are mostly owned and run by farmers of Hmong and Chinese descent. Police have also started threatening to cite local businesses that provide soil, lumber and other supplies to the cannabis farms, accusing them of “aiding and abetting” illegal activity. The farmers feel increasingly targeted because of their race, saying that only Asian farmers in Siskiyou County are being singled out by the heavy-handed tactics of local police. Sacramento Bee


Disneyland will soon reopen to out-of-state guests. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have begun selling tickets to travelers from outside the Golden State for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut their doors more than a year ago, the Anaheim theme parks announced. The two parks plan to start admitting out-of-state visitors June 15, the day California is scheduled to loosen its pandemic restrictions on most businesses. Los Angeles Times


A masked couple in front of a statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse at Disneyland Resort in May. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Did taxidermy in a California home draw a mountain lion break-in? A mountain lion in the Bay Area suburb of San Bruno smashed through a glass window of a home there this week and hopped into the residence. Police in San Bruno suspect the mountain lion was lured into the home by several large game taxidermy heads that were affixed to the home’s inside walls. Authorities said the homeowner scared the animal off. SFGATE

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.


Los Angeles: partly cloudy, 70. San Diego: partly cloudy, 66. San Francisco: cloudy, 63. San Jose: sunny, 73. Fresno: mostly sunny, 90. Sacramento: sunny, 87.


Today’s California memory comes from DeAnn Wylie:

I grew up in Las Vegas and moved to California in 1970. My memories growing up in Vegas were of hot rocks, hot deserts, cactuses and weird ladies playing slot machines in grocery stores with red lipstick, hair-sprayed hair and smelly cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. That was what I thought was normal. Then we moved to California. And I thought I was in heaven. It was warm with a cool breeze, ivy covered the highway over crossings, beautiful plants with flowers in all colors lined the highway. When I started seventh grade I walked through orange groves to get to school and breathed in the amazing fragrance of the blossoms. I have loved California ever since and will never live anywhere else. Peace!

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments to [email protected].



Ads by: Memento Maxima Digital Marketing
@[email protected]


Thank you for reading the Los Angeles Times
Essential California newsletter.
Invite your friends, relatives, coworkers to sign up here.
Not a subscriber? Get unlimited digital access to latimes.com. Subscribe here.Copyright © 2021, Los Angeles Times
2300 E. Imperial Highway, El Segundo, California, 90245
1-800-LA-TIMES | latimes.com*


It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someonePrint this page