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Odessa Shooter Had Been On A Long Downward Spiral According To FBI

Christopher Combs with the FBI speaks at a press conference following the mass shooting in West Texas.
Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio
Christopher Combs with the FBI speaks at a press conference following the mass shooting in West Texas.

Law enforcement in Texas released more information Monday afternoon about the investigation into this weekend’s mass shooting which killed seven people and injured 23.

Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said the alleged shooter was fired from his job at Journey Oil Field Service on Saturday morning, shortly before the shootings began.

Both the shooter and his employer called 911 Saturday morning over a dispute stemming from his termination. And the shooter called the FBI national tip line about 15 minutes before the shooting began but Chief Gerke said he didn’t make any threats. FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs characterized the call as “rambling statements.”

In the press conference Gerke said police still have two remaining crime scenes to finish investigating. He also announced that overnight a 70-year-old woman had gone to a hospital with shrapnel wounds from the shooting. The unidentified victim was treated and released.

Law enforcement also said they had completed a search of the shooter’s home. FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs said that his living conditions reflect what they believe to have been his mental state.

“He was on a long spiral of going down,” said Combs. “He’s probably been in trouble for a while.”

When asked, Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis said his department hadn’t found reports that a neighbor had called police recently after the shooter had threatened her with a rifle.

Texas Gov Greg Abbott tweeted on Monday before the press conference that the shooter had previously failed a background check to buy a gun. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms confirmed that he failed a background check but didn’t offer more details.

“The background check was run through NICS,” said ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Wester, referring to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. “He did try to get a gun and was denied a gun.”

Jonathan Levinsonis a reporter for Guns & America and OPB. is a public media reporting project on the role of guns in American life.

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Jonathan Levinson
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