Around 3:25 in the afternoon of Saturday, August 31, the Texas Department of Public Safety attempted to pull over a gold sedan on I-20 outside of Odessa for a minor traffic violation.
Without coming to a stop, the driver pointed a rifle at the two state troopers in the patrol unit behind him and opened fire.
One of the troopers, Chuck Pryor, was seriously injured by the gunfire, but survived.
The gunman fled the police in his vehicle and proceeded to shoot randomly at people, murdering seven and injuring twenty-five others.
At one point during the rampage, the killer hijacked the van of Mary Granados, a mail carrier, and murdered her.
By 3:57 PM, the Midland Police Department confirmed that the mass murderer was killed by police outside of a movie theater in Odessa.
Initial reports indicated that there were multiple suspects, but the police later stated that there was only one and that the confusion was caused by the change in vehicles.
“The firearm was an AR-type weapon,” said Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke on Sunday. “As far as he obtained it, that is still under investigation.”
John Wester, an assistant special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), confirmed Gov. Abbott’s claim that the killer had been denied a gun purchase after failing a background check.
Abbott also stated that the gunman did not go through a background check to purchase the weapon he used.
Although no clear motive has been determined, Gerke told the press that the killer had gone into work earlier that day and was fired.
After being fired, both he and the staff at the oil company that fired him called Odessa 911 to complain.
Shortly before the initial contact with police, the murderer made a rambling phone call to the FBI national tip line, but made no threats.
Christopher Combs, the FBI special agent in charge of the investigation, said that the killer “was on a long spiral of going down.”
“He didn’t wake up on Saturday morning and walk into his company and then it happened. He went to that company in trouble. He’d probably been in trouble for a while,” said Combs.
Seven victims have been killed by the madman:
- Leilah Hernandez, 15, was at a car dealership where her older brother, Nathan, was getting a truck. CBS-7 reports that Nathan tried to cover his sister and was shot in his arm, but another bullet hit near her collar bone. Her basketball teammates said that she was always smiling. A vigil at her high school is planned for Tuesday.
- Joe Griffith, 40, was a teacher and a member of the First Baptist Church in Odessa. On Sunday, the pastor of the church gave a sermon to console the community. “We all feel a sense of being violated. Every single one of us does because all of a sudden what we hear about from far, far away has come close to home,” he said.
- Mary Granados, 29, was the mail carrier that the gunman murdered. Her twin sister, Rosie, told CNN that she was on the phone with Mary when she was killed. “It was very painful. I just wanted to help her and I couldn’t I thought she had got bite by a dog or something. I tried calling her name and she wouldn’t answer,” she said.
- Edwin Peregrino, 25, was visiting his parents in Odessa, according to The Washington Post. When he heard gunshots, he went outside to see what was happening and was shot as the killer drove by.
- Rodolfo “Rudy” Arco, 57, owned a trucking company and was on his way home after work. According to Arizona Central, Rudy’s sister said that he had lived in Las Vegas but decided to move after the mass shooting in 2017 at a concert. “He sold everything in Vegas and moved [to Odessa], in the hopes that things would be safer for him and the family,” she said.
- Kameron Karltess Brown, 30, served in the Army in Afghanistan and was an employee at Standard Safety and Supply. He was shot near Ratliff Stadium in Odessa.
- Raul Garcia, 35, was from El Paso and was on his way home to be with his four children, “Just like my son said, ‘Mom, now he’ll be a truck driver in heaven,’” his wife Perla said, holding back tears according to ABC-7.
Over twenty others were injured in the rampage, ranging in age from 17-months old to 64 years old.
Kelby Davis was at a stoplight when the gunman drove and shot toward her car. She tried to cover her twin 17-month olds, but was too late. One bullet hit her child, Anderson, in the mouth and chest.
She was flown to a hospital in Lubbock where doctors quickly performed surgeries to close holes in her tongue and mouth. Despite some pieces of shrapnel still in her chest, Anderson was doing much better by the next day and was released from the hospital.
Kelby posted a photo of Anderson on Facebook with her bright and smiling face. “This sweet baby’s face looked so different yesterday afternoon and we are blown away at how she looks this amazing today,” Kelby wrote. “Only God can heal this drastically. We are thankful for her healing, thankful for our community, and thankful to be children of God.”
As with the El Paso community after the tragic mass murder last month, the communities in Odessa and Midland have come together in the wake of the calamity. Like in El Paso, funeral homes have been covering the funeral expenses of the victims and several prayer vigils have been held.
Many fundraisers for the victims have also been started on GoFundMe, but some have been fraudulent.
The Odessa Police Department recommends contacting the Odessa Chamber of Commerce if you wish to make monetary donations to the victims and their families.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.