7 Killed, More Than 20 Wounded In West Texas Shooting

Aug 31, 2019

Seven people were killed and more than 20 others were injured Saturday afternoon by a man shooting at random near the West Texas cities of Odessa and Midland, the Odessa Police Department said. 

A Midland police officer, an Odessa police officer and a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper were also wounded. The trooper is in serious but stable condition, and the two other officers are in stable condition at a local hospital, DPS said Saturday. 

The incident started around 3:17 p.m. when two troopers pulled over a vehicle on Interstate 20 between Midland and Odessa. DPS says the driver shot one of the troopers with a rifle.

Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said multiple people were then shot when the gunman drove west into Odessa and shot people in multiple locations on 42nd Street.

The suspect ditched his car and hijacked a U.S. Postal Service vehicle and was firing at people, the police chief said. The shooting spree ended when the suspect was shot and killed near the Cinergy movie theater in Odessa following an exchange of gunfire with officers.  

CBS7, a local TV news station located at Music City Mall in Odessa, was evacuated as its news anchors were live on the air. The anchors described a chaotic scene of people running out of the mall as officers cleared the area with guns drawn. 

There were initial reports of a second shooter, but there has been no confirmation of one, Chief Gerke said. 

The shooting suspect was described by police as a white male in his 30s. The man's motive is unknown at this time. 

Odessa-based Medical Center Health System CEO Russell Tippin said Saturday evening that 13 people admitted to the hospital have been released. He said seven people are in critical condition and two people are in serious condition. "This is a scary incident and nobody is guaranteed tomorrow," Tippin said, urging people to pray for the community. 

The hospital was placed on lockdown for the safety of its staff, Tippin said. Grief counselors and social workers are being made available to families.

The ATF and FBI deployed teams to the area. U.S. Attorney General William Barr says he is monitoring the situation and President Donald Trump said in a tweet he was briefed by the attorney general. 

Gov. Greg Abbott said he and the first lady offered their “unwavering support” to the victims and their families.

“The state of Texas and the Department of Public Safety are working closely with local law enforcement to provide resources as needed and deliver justice for this heinous attack,” he said in a statement. His office said he would be traveling to Odessa on Sunday. 

The Odessa Police Department said in a Facebook post it is planning to hold a press conference at noon on Sunday. A 7 p.m. vigil is planned at UT Permian Basin, the City of Odessa said in a Facebook post. 

This story has been updated. 

Odessa Police Department 6 p.m. Saturday press conference