(Reuters) – The gunman who killed seven individuals and wounded 23 others in a rolling rampage throughout West Texas obtained an assault-style rifle regardless of failing a background examine, state and legislation enforcement officers mentioned on Monday.
The gunman, recognized by police as Seth Aaron Ator, 36, carried out the capturing spree within the neighboring cities of Midland and Odessa on Saturday, a short while after he was fired from his trucking job. He referred to as native emergency 911 responders after which an FBI tip line to make rambling statements, officers mentioned.
In these calls, Ator didn’t threaten to commit violence, they mentioned.
However he would quickly go on to open hearth on civilians and cops in a roving sequence of shootings, at one level hijacking a U.S. Postal Service truck earlier than dying in an change of gunfire with legislation enforcement, police mentioned.
It was the second mass capturing in Texas in 4 weeks, and the state’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott, expressed frustration on Monday the suspect had a firearm.
“We should maintain weapons out of criminals’ arms,” Abbott mentioned on Twitter.
Ator was rejected when he tried to purchase a gun and his identify was run by means of the Nationwide Instantaneous Legal Background Test System, John Wester, assistant particular agent in control of the Dallas workplace of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, advised a information convention.
Authorities couldn’t instantly say how he obtained a firearm, Wester added.
It additionally was not instantly clear when or why he had failed the background examine. On-line courtroom information confirmed Ator had convictions in 2002 for legal trespass and evading arrest.
However Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke advised a information convention on Monday that Ator’s previous interactions with police in that space, the place the gunman lived, weren’t critical sufficient to have legally prevented him from having a firearm.
President Donald Trump over the weekend referred to as the Odessa-Midland shooter “a really sick individual,” however mentioned elevated background checks on gun consumers wouldn’t have prevented many mass shootings in the US up to now few years.
Democrats in Congress need to shut loopholes that below federal legislation, permit sure individuals to promote firearms with out requiring background checks, similar to in gross sales performed on-line, at gun reveals or out of their houses.
Trump mentioned final month he had spoken to the Nationwide Rifle Affiliation gun rights group about closing loopholes in background checks however he didn’t need to take away the constitutional proper to personal weapons.
Hours after he was fired from his trucking job and 15 minutes after he referred to as the FBI tip line, Ator was pulled over in a sedan by Texas state troopers on Interstate 20 in Midland for failing to make use of a flip sign, police mentioned.
Armed with an AR-type rifle, Ator fired out the again window of his gold-colored automotive, wounding one trooper. Then he drove away spraying gunfire indiscriminately, the Texas Division of Public Security mentioned.
At one level, Ator deserted his automotive and hijacked a U.S. postal van, mortally wounding the letter service, recognized by officers as Mary Grandos, 29.
He shot seven individuals to dying, abandoning a path of 15 crime scenes with 23 different individuals wounded within the rampage, officers mentioned.
Three cops had been shot and wounded – one from Midland, one from Odessa and one state trooper – all in steady situation at hospitals.
Ator was later cornered by officers within the parking zone of a cinema advanced in Odessa the place he was shot and killed.
The FBI has scoured Ator’s house, Christopher Combs, particular agent in control of the FBI workplace in San Antonio, advised a information convention on Monday.
“I can let you know the circumstances mirror what we consider his psychological state was going into this,” Combs mentioned.
“He was on a protracted spiral of happening. He didn’t get up Saturday morning and stroll into his firm after which it occurred. He went into that firm in hassle. He’s in all probability been in hassle for some time,” Combs mentioned.
The rampage got here a couple of month after a gunman from the Dallas space killed 22 individuals on Aug. three at a Walmart retailer about 255 miles (410 km) west of Midland in El Paso, Texas.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Extra reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver and Wealthy McKay in Atlanta; Enhancing by Invoice Tarrant and Peter Cooney