Monday 16 September 2019

Toddler shot in the face as driver kills seven people

Hope: A man prays outside a hospital in Odessa, where some of the injured were being treated. Photo: AP
Hope: A man prays outside a hospital in Odessa, where some of the injured were being treated. Photo: AP

Keith Coffman

A gunman who went on the rampage with a semi-­automatic rifle in Texas killed seven people and wounded 22, including a toddler who was shot in the face.

Police said the second mass shooting in the state in four weeks began on Saturday with a routine traffic stop and ended when the killer was cornered and shot dead by officers in a cinema car park.

Police, motorists and shoppers were all caught up in the chaos that unfolded between the cities of Odessa and Midland during a busy holiday weekend.

Authorities say the shooter, a white male in his 30s, was known to police and lived locally but there is no apparent link to terrorism.

"There are no definitive answers as to motive or reasons at this point, but we are fairly certain that the subject did act alone," Odessa police chief Michael Gerke said.

Local police later named the killer as Seth Aaron Ator (36), of Odessa.

Among the wounded was a 17-month-old girl, Anderson Davis, who was shot in the face, according to officials and an online fundraising campaign started by her family.

Three police officers were shot and wounded - one from Midland, one from Odessa and a Department of Public Safety state trooper. All are in stable condition.

On August 3, a gunman killed 22 people in another Saturday shooting at a Walmart store about 410km west of Midland in the city of El Paso.

President Donald Trump called the Odessa-Midland shooter "a very sick person", but said background checks on gun buyers would not have prevented the recent spate of US gun violence.

Mr Trump said he would be working with Democrats and Republicans on gun legislation when Congress returns this month. "I think you're going to see some interesting things coming along," he said.

The bloodshed between Midland and Odessa began when two state troopers pulled over a car on Interstate 20 for not using its turn signal and the lone occupant fired at their patrol vehicle with an "AR-type" rifle, or lightweight semi-automatic, wounding one of them.

After fleeing, the suspect hijacked a postal van and opened fire on passersby before being shot dead outside the Cinergy cinema complex in Odessa.

Texas governor Greg Abbot said in a statement: "I'm heartbroken by the crying of the people of the state of Texas. I'm tired of the dying of the people of the state of Texas ... the status quo in Texas is unacceptable, and action is needed."

Irish Independent

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