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 3:13 p.m. CDT when an assailant described by authorities only as a white male in his mid-30s driving a gold-colored vehicle was pulled over by a pair of state troopers on Interstate 20 for a traffic violation, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.
Before coming to a stop, the man grabbed a rifle and shot multiple times at the pair of troopers through the rear window, wounding one. He then sped off, shooting at other motorists and passers-by. At one point, he changed to a U.S. Postal Service truck.
Besides the initial trooper who was shot, two others were wounded as well, Texas DPS said, The gunman himself was killed after a chase involving officers from both Midland and Odessa, two cities within miles of each other.
The tragedy shattered an otherwise quiet holiday weekend in West Texas and became the latest mass shooting after others this summer 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.
When it came to changing 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. It crashed into a series of police cars set up as a roadblock. The van stopped, and officers quickly approach the van with guns drawn.
Besides the trooper, the injured officers included one from Midland and one from Odessa.
Russell Tippin, CEO of Medical Center Hospital, said 13 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.
Midland Community Hospital said it had six patients from the shootings. Three of them were in critical condition and the other three were listed as stable.
One of the victims of the shooting was a 17-month-old baby girl. She was initially taken to Medical Center Hospital, but then was transported to UMC Health System in Lubbock, about 140 miles away. The hospital confirmed that she was in “satisfactory” condition Saturday night.
As the incident unfolded, chaos led to confusion. At one point, online and police reports from the Midland and Odessa area reported two shooters travelling separately – one in a small Toyota truck and the other in a postal service van. As it turned out, there was only the lone assailant.
CBS7 twice had its news anchors clear the set at Music City Mall, where they were broadcasting from, 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.