The Latest: Neighbor says gunman was “violent, aggressive”
ODESSA, Texas (AP) — The Latest on a shooting in West Texas (all times local):
A neighbor of the gunman who killed seven people in West Texas described him as “a violent, aggressive person” that would fire his guns at all hours of the night.
Rocio Gutierrez tells The Associated Press that her family has lived near Seth Ator for the past five months. But she says they were afraid of him.
Gutierrez says Ator would go out at night and shoot at animals, mostly rabbits. She also says Ator recently came over and knocked on their door around 4 a.m., but they didn’t answer because it was “frightening.”
Ator was killed by police outside an Odessa movie theater on Saturday after opening fire on state troopers during a traffic stop and then fleeing, shooting at random passers-by and vehicles.
Gutierrez says “I know it sounds bad” but she’s relieved “because now he’s dead.”
An FBI agent says the gunman in a West Texas rampage that killed seven people “was on a long spiral down” before he was fired from his job on the day of the shooting.
FBI special agent Christopher Combs said Monday that where 36-year-old Seth Aaron Ator lived was “a strange residence” and that the conditions “reflect what his mental state was going into this.”
Authorities say Ator was fired Saturday morning from his job at Journey Oilfield Services and made “rambling” phone calls to both the 911 and the FBI afterward. Combs says Ator had gone to work that day “in trouble.”
Ator was killed by police outside an Odessa move theater to end a chase that covered more than 10 miles (16 kilometers).
Authorities say the gunman in a West Texas rampage was fired from his job and called both police and the FBI before the mass shooting began.
Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said Monday that 36-year-old Seth Aaron Ator had been fired over the weekend from Journey Oilfield Services. He said both Ator and the company called 911 after being fired Saturday but that Ator was gone by the time police showed up. FBI special agent Christopher Combs says Ator’s statements on the FBI tip line were “rambling.”
Ator was stopped 15 minutes later by a Texas state trooper on an interstate for failing to signal a lane change. Authorities say Ator opened fire on the troopers and fled, shooting at random passers-by and vehicles.
Police gunned down Ator at a movie theater in Odessa to end the chase.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott says the criminal history of a man who killed seven people in West Texas this weekend means “we must keep guns out of criminals’ hands.”
Abbott’s tweet Monday is similar to his comments that followed another mass shooting in El Paso last month, when the governor said firearms must be kept out of the hands of “deranged killers.” But Abbott, an avid gun rights supporter, has been noncommittal on tightening gun laws in Texas.
Police killed 36-year-old Seth Aaron Ator outside an Odessa movie theater Saturday to end a rampage that began when Ator fled a traffic stop. Court records show Ator was arrested in 2001 for a misdemeanor offense that would not have prevented him from legally purchasing firearms in Texas.
Abbott tweeted that Ator failed a previous gun background check and didn’t go through one for the weapon he used in Odessa. But Abbott didn’t elaborate on when Ator failed the background check or the reasons why.
His spokesman referred questions to the Texas Department of Public Safety, which didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Authorities are expected to release more details about a gunman who killed seven people during a West Texas rampage amid reports that he lost his job the day of the shooting.
A news conference set for Monday afternoon is expected to reveal more information about 36-year-old Seth Aaron Ator and the Labor Day weekend shooting that also injured 22 people.
Authorities have said there are still no answers pointing to a motive for Saturday’s chaotic attacks in the cities of Midland and Odessa. The New York Times and Washington Post have reported that Ator lost his job on the day of the attack, citing unnamed officials. An FBI spokeswoman declined comment on those reports.
Ator had a thin criminal record in Texas and police say he had no active warrants when he fled a routine traffic stop that began the rampage.
Police say they are not sure why a man with a misdemeanor on his record and no warrant for his arrest erupted in a spate of violence after a routine traffic stop in West Texas, killing seven including a man slain outside his parents’ home and a teenager fatally shot as she left a car dealership with her family.
Authorities said that Seth Aaron Ator, 36, also injured 22 people Saturday afternoon before officers killed him outside a busy movie theater in Odessa.
Online court records show Ator was arrested in 2001 for a misdemeanor offense that would not have prevented him from legally purchasing firearms in Texas, although authorities have not said where Ator got the “AR style” weapon he used.
Authorities said those killed were between the ages of 15 and 57 years old but did not immediately provide a list of names.