Officers initially said that two shooters may have been at large. Later, they said those fears had proven unfounded, with the lone attacker having used two vehicles.
The incident began when a highway patrol officer stopped the driver and was shot, at about 3.17pm on Saturday. The shooter then drove into Odessa and onto the city’s 42nd Street, where many of his victims were shot. He then hijacked a postal van, causing more casualties, police said.
Midland police posted on Facebook that the gunman had eventually been shot and killed outside a Cinergy cinema. The police initially reported a death toll of five people, with the number rising to seven the following day.
Local broadcaster CBS7, which was forced to evacuate its TV studio during the incident, has reported among those shot are a 17-month-old child, who was left with shrapnel in her chest, and a postal worker who died of her injuries.
At least one person is still believed to be in a critical condition following the incident.
Shortly after the shooter was taken down, Odessa police chief Michael Gerke said in a press conference: "This was a joint effort by a multitude of departments to find this animal and bring him to justice”.
Asked if the suspect had been identified, Mr Gerke said: “He is a white male in his 30s. I don’t have a positive identification on him yet – I have an idea who he is but I won’t release that information until we’re absolutely positive.
Odessa police chief gives emotional statement after mass shooting in 'horrific' day
Donald Trump confirmed he had been briefed on the incident by the US attorney general’s office, adding that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies were “fully engaged”.
The attack is the latest in a string of high profile instances of gun violence across the US in August, including mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which led to a combined death toll of 31 people
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There have been more mass shootings across the US in 2019 then there have been days in the year so far – with at least 279 incidents taking place across 244 days, according to data compiled by non-profit group the Gun Violence Archive.
A statement from Texas governor Greg Abbot said: “The first lady and I are heartbroken over this senseless and cowardly attack, and we offer our unwavering support to the victims, their families and all the people of Midland and Odessa.
“I want to remind all Texans that we will not allow the Lone Star State to be overrun by hatred and violence. We will unite, as Texans always do, to respond to this tragedy.”
The state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, said: “I am horrified to see such a senseless act terrorise the fine people of the Permian Basin. Thank you to the courageous local and state first responders who worked quickly today to stop this evil attack.”