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Probe finds rail yard had no advance warning of 2021 shooting that left 10 dead

San Jose, California —An investigative report of the deadly mass shooting at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority rail yard in May of 2021 found that officials had no prior warning of the incident that left ten people dead, including the gunman, CBS Bay Area reports.

Memorial to VTA mass shooting victims
Memorial to VTA mass shooting victims. CBS

The VTA Board of Directors voted Monday to release the investigative findings surrounding the May 26, 2021 mass shooting that remains the most deadly in Bay Area history.

"This Board is committed to transparency, and we felt releasing the findings was very important," said Board Chair Chappie Jones. 

A release issued about the report said the findings are based on a review of documents pertaining to the incident and the shooter, who was identified as 57-year-old VTA employee Samuel James Cassidy. The investigation also drew from interviews of nearly four dozen witnesses.

According to the release, "The independent investigator concluded that VTA possessed no prior knowledge nor any warning that the employee/shooter was planning a mass shooting."  

The investigation noted that Cassidy had been vocal with colleagues prior to the incident about his dissatisfaction with aspects of his job and that some coworkers had complained about unpleasant interactions with him, but none of the complaints raised red flags to VTA officials that a workplace shooting could happen.

The investigation also noted that the shooter was detained briefly by the Department of Homeland Security at San Francisco International Airport in 2016 upon his return from an overseas trip with documents that outlined his unhappiness with his job, but the documents contained no information about planning a mass shooting. Homeland Security didn't notify either local law enforcement or VTA of the detention or the documents found.        

Last month, families of eight VTA employees who were killed in the shooting announced the settlement of legal claims against the transit agency.

"Like so many of my colleagues, I was incredibly shocked and heartbroken by this horrific event," said VTA General Manager Carolyn Gonot. "We've taken what happened to heart and are implementing changes to try to prevent something like this from ever happening again."  

Among the changes is the availability of mental health counselling for all VTA employees and their families.  

VTA's Board of Directors also provided additional benefits to the victims' families to help them cope with their loss.  As part of the healing process, VTA demolished the primary buildings where the tragedy occurred and is planning permanent memorials at the site.

The investigative findings may be viewed online here.

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