Gunman kills 8 coworkers at California rail yard

Eight people were killed Wednesday when a transit employee opened fire at a light rail yard in San Jose, California, the latest in what has become an all too common occurrence in the U.S.

All eight were employees of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, or VTA.

“This is a very dark moment for our city…”

At a news conference, Mayor Sam Liccardo hailed these essential workers for helping the city get through the pandemic.

“They were showing up every day to operate light rail and buses to ensure people could still continue to go about their lives, and they had all of the challenges of the pandemic, and they were taking risks with their own lives in doing so.”

The gunman – a fellow VTA employee – took his own life, apparently when he became aware that police were closing in on him.

Local media outlets identified him as 57-year-old Samuel Cassidy, a maintenance worker.

The shooting took place just before 7 a.m. Pacific time. VTA chairman Glenn Hendricks said it occurred in the maintenance yard.

“It’s just very difficult for everyone to be able to wrap their heads around and understand what has happened.”

Officials said a bomb squad was searching the yard after "at least one" explosive device was found.

Authorities also responded to a fire at the home of the suspect that erupted at about the same time as the shooting.

The FBI is assisting in the investigation, and the White House is monitoring the situation.

San Jose lies at the heart of Silicon Valley, home to some of America's biggest tech companies.

"What the hell is going on in the United States of America? What the hell is wrong with us?"

California Governor Gavin Newsom was visibly angry as he urged politicians from both parties to move beyond the usual platitudes that follow gun violence and finally take action.

"It's time to deal with the endemic, before this pandemic, of gun violence. The pre-existing condition that somehow we sort of pushed aside last year but now has raised its ugly head again this year. And wake up to this reality and take a little damn responsibility, all of us, to do a little bit more and a little bit better this time.”

Mass gun violence has escalated considerably as the U.S. emerged from the worst of the pandemic this spring.