High school student among Texas dead

 

The death toll in a Texas shooting rampage has risen to seven as US authorities try to understand why a man stopped by police for failing to use his blinker opened fire on them and sped off.

It comes as US news outlets reported the shooter as 36-year-old Seth Ator, while police still refused to name him.

According to the New York Post, Ator, a 36-year-old resident of Odessa, Texas, was first named as the assailant by CBS News, citing police sources.

Ator shot more than 20 people before later being killed by officers at a movie theatre car park in yet another shooting that has left America reeling.

Odessa police spokesman Steve LeSueur confirmed on Sunday (local time) that two additional victims had died in the hospital and at least one of the 19 others injured remains in a "life-threatening" condition.

 

Leila Hernandez was just 15 when she shot and killed. Picture: Facebook
Leila Hernandez was just 15 when she shot and killed. Picture: Facebook

Police have not named any victims but several have been publicly identified by family members.

Among those killed was 15-year-old high school student Leila Hernandez, whose loved ones described her as a "sweet girl with a big heart".

The tragic teen's brother Nathan was also injured in the rampage and has undergone surgery, according to a GoFundMe that has raised over $US14,000 ($A20,000) for the Hernandez family as of Sunday afternoon (local time).

 

Texas postwoman Mary Granados was among the killed. Picture: Facebook
Texas postwoman Mary Granados was among the killed. Picture: Facebook

 

Policeman Zack Owens was seriously injured in the Texas shooting. Picture: Facebook
Policeman Zack Owens was seriously injured in the Texas shooting. Picture: Facebook

 

Postwoman Mary Granados was shot and killed when the gunman stole her van as she was delivering mail, according to a co-worker.

Three police officers were also wounded in the shooting. One, Zack Owens, was shot multiple times in the arm and hand and suffered glass shards in his eye, according to a GoFundMe campaign set up by his family.

BABY'S MIRACULOUS SURVIVAL

It comes as a 17-month-old baby who was wounded during the shooting has miraculously survived.

It's understood that little Anderson Davis was hit with a bullet fragment that knocked out her front teeth and left a hole in her bottom lip.

An online fundraiser was started by a woman who claims to know the family, which included a message from the baby's mother. It has since raised more than $USD110,000 ($A163,000).

Anderson, the 17-month-old baby who was wounded in the attack. Picture: GoFundMe
Anderson, the 17-month-old baby who was wounded in the attack. Picture: GoFundMe

"She is being flown to Lubbock while we drive. Not getting to fly with her is beyond painful. Anderson is 17 months old, has shrapnel in her right chest, which thank God is superficial. She has a hole through her bottom lip and tongue and her front teeth were knocked out. She is alive," the message read.

POLICE 'WON'T NAME' SHOOTER

Meanwhile, a Texas police chief refused to utter the name of the mass shooter who used an "AR-type weapon" to kill seven and injure 22 after a routine traffic stop.

"You'll notice that I'm not naming this subject. I refuse to," Odessa police chief Michael Gerke said at a press conference on Sunday (local time).

"I'm not going to give him any notoriety for what he did."

Chief Gerke confirmed that the killer used an "AR-type weapon" - and they believe he planned an even bigger massacre before he was shot dead by police outside a cinema.

 

Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke trefused to name the gunman. Picture: AP
Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke trefused to name the gunman. Picture: AP

"It begs the question, why go to the theattr if you have not planned on entering the theatre?" Chief Gerke said.

"On a Saturday afternoon in Odessa, Texas, that is one of the most crowded places to be.

"There's no way of knowing without talking to him, and we can't talk to him. But he showed up at a movie theatre which would tend to show his motives."

Chief Gerke said that initial reports of more than one gunman came because the killer had hijacked a mail van during his massacre.

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

The FBI, meanwhile, does not believe it is connected to "domestic or international terrorism."

Chief Gerke confirmed that three police officers were among the 22 injured while "very, very sadly" seven people were killed.

"My heart aches for all," he said of the victims who were aged between 15 and 57.

 

 

'F***ED UP'

The shooter, who was identified by police as a white male in his 30s, hijacked a post office van at one stage before he was killed at a cinema complex car park.

His death was reportedly captured on video.

The massacre in the neighbouring cities of Midland and Odessa came exactly a month after a mass shooting in the US-Texas border town of El Paso that killed 22.

US President Donald Trump thanked Texas police and emergency services for their handling of "the terrible shooting tragedy" on Twitter.

 

 

"It could have been a lot worse," he said in a press stop broadcast on CNN. "It's a big problem, it's a mental problem," he said, without referring to it as a gun problem.

Democratic presidential candidate and El Paso, Texas native Beto O'Rourke called for an end to the epidemic of gun violence, referring to it as "f***ked up" in an interview on CNN.

 

The gunman fired at random cars. Picture: Supplied
The gunman fired at random cars. Picture: Supplied

HOW THE SHOOTING UNFOLDED

The shooting began on Saturday afternoon (local time) at a traffic stop where gunfire was exchanged with police, setting off a chaotic rampage during which the suspect hijacked a mail carrier truck and began firing at random as he drove in the area of Odessa and Midland, two cities in the heart of Texas oil country more than 483 kilometres west of Dallas.

Police initially reported that there could be more than one shooter, but Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said authorities believe it was one shooter.

"Once this individual was taken out of the picture, there have been no more victims," Chief Gerke said.

He described the suspect as a white male in his 30s. He did not name him or a motive but said he has some idea who the gunman is.

The shooter targeted motorists in Odessa, Texas.
The shooter targeted motorists in Odessa, Texas.

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The terrifying chain of events began when Texas state troopers tried pulling over a gold car for failing to signal a left turn, Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said.

Before the vehicle came to a complete stop, the driver "pointed a rifle toward the rear window of his car and fired several shots" toward the patrol car stopping him. The gunshots struck one of two troopers inside the patrol car, Ms Cesinger said, after which the gunman fled and continued shooting, including two other police officers.

Gerke said that in addition to the injured officers, there were at least 21 civilian shooting victims.

The shooting began on Saturday afternoon with an interstate traffic stop where gunfire was exchanged with police. Picture: AP
The shooting began on Saturday afternoon with an interstate traffic stop where gunfire was exchanged with police. Picture: AP

Shauna Saxton was one of the terrified drivers who said she was a target during his rampage. She was driving with her husband and grandson in Odessa and had paused at a stoplight when they heard loud pops.

"I looked over my shoulder to the left and the gold car pulled up and the man was there and he had a very large gun and it was pointing at me," she told TV station KOSA.

Saxton said she was trapped because there were two cars in front of her. "I started honking my horn. I started swerving and we got a little ahead of him and then for whatever reason the cars in front of me kind of parted," she said sobbing. She said that their vehicle escaped from the shooter and they heard three more shots as they sped away.

"A subject (possibly 2) is currently driving around Odessa shooting at random people," Odessa Police said in an Facebook post at the time of the shootings.

"At this time there are multiple gunshot victims. The suspect just hijacked a US mail carrier truck."

Police in the neighbouring city of Midland said: "We believe there are two shooters in two separate vehicles. The two vehicles in question are: gold/white small Toyota truck and a Postal truck. Please stay away from these areas and stay indoors."

They later posted: "It has been confirmed that the active shooter was shot and killed at the Cinergy [cinema complex] in Odessa. There is no active shooter at this time. All agencies are investigating reports of possible suspects."

A video shot by a bystander shows people fleeing the cinema, screaming "There's a shooter" as police head inside.

A police chopper flies over Odessa after the shooting. Picture: AP
A police chopper flies over Odessa after the shooting. Picture: AP

The shootings come exactly four weeks after a gunman shot and killed 22 people and injured 24 others in the Texan city of El Paso.

America is once again grappling with gun violence after a spate of recent mass shootings.

"There is an epidemic in America. It is taking lives and shattering communities across the country," Democratic National Convention Chair Tom Perez said.

"Today, we reached the point where when we talk about 'this month's mass shooting in Texas,' we have to ask 'Which one? El Paso or Odessa-Midland?' When we talk about the 'mass shooting in Aurora,' we have to ask 'Which Aurora? Illinois or Colorado?' When we talk about the 'mass shooting in Orlando,' we have to ask 'Which time? 2016 or 2017?'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police surround the Odessa cinema where the gunman was shot dead. Picture: AP
Police surround the Odessa cinema where the gunman was shot dead. Picture: AP