MIDLAND/ODESSA, TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Odessa police now say the death toll stands at eight after a suspect went on a shooting rampage in West Texas. This total includes the shooter. Three of those deaths were in Midland and five in Odessa.
A man who was stopped by a Department of Public Safety trooper opened fire Saturday afternoon then fled, shooting people at random. The suspect was later shot and killed.
Odessa police spokesman Steve LeSueur said Sunday that at least one person remains in “life-threatening” condition. Authorities have said the gunman shot more than 20 people before being killed by officers outside a movie theater.
Among those injured were one Midland County DPS trooper, one Midland Police Officer and one Odessa Police Officer. There was no word yet on their injuries.
In a statement released from Odessa police, the shootings began just after 3 p.m. after a traffic stop, and ended when a law enforcement officer returned fire, striking and killing the suspect.
A traffic stop was initiated by DPS on I-20 between Midland and Odessa. The driver opened fire on the trooper before fleeing westbound on the interstate, and shooting at a civilian at east Loop 338 and I-20. The suspect proceeded on a shooting spree in the City of Odessa and stole a mail carrier truck. The suspect continued shooting at innocent civilians all over Odessa before making his way to Cinergy on Highway 191.
The suspect then shot an Odessa Police Department officer, along with a Midland Police Department officer. Law enforcement officers returned fire, killing the suspect.
Bystander Alex Woods recorded the shots fired as police approached the movie theater.
“There’s a shooting going on in Odessa, Texas,” Woods said.
Just then, gun shots could be heard on the recording.
“Oh God, they’re shooting right there.”
Police cars with their lights on could be seen in the video as Woods kept filming.
“He hit the barrier… The cop just hit the barrier.” Woods continued to narrate. “Stand still. He’s shooting him, he’s shooting him. Oh he killed him, he killed him.”
“I could see the officer walking up the mail van and discharging his weapon into it, and I believe that’s when the shooter was killed,” Woods later told CNN.
Gerke said the suspect was shot and killed after they engaged him in the theater’s parking lot. He also said that he believes the threat is over, but authorities will remain vigilant.
Police initially believed there may have been two active shooters driving in two separate vehicles in both cities. The two vehicles in question were a gold/white small Toyota truck and a USPS Postal Van that Odessa police say was hijacked. Gerke said he believes that the suspect was initially driving his own vehicle then hijacked the mail truck.
According to CNN, Morales said the day’s events began when a DPS trooper pulled over a vehicle on an interstate highway.
“That’s when he shot the officer and then took off and started shooting randomly,” he said. “Everything happened after that.”
The Odessa Police Department told the public to stay away from these areas and stay indoors.
“Everyone is encouraged to get off the road and use extreme caution!” police posted online.
Governor Greg Abbott has since released a statement regarding the shooting.
The First Lady and I are heartbroken over this senseless and cowardly attack, and we offer our unwavering support to the victims, their families, and all of the people of Midland and Odessa. 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.
Statement on shooting in Odessa, Texas: pic.twitter.com/3QV5LriVzi
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) August 31, 2019
The Governor went on to thank first responders for acting swiftly and admirably.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz also issued a statement following the tragedy.
Heidi and I are heartbroken by this heinous attack, and we are lifting up in prayer all the victims, their families, and the entire Midland-Odessa community. We are thankful for the law enforcement officers who heroically risked their lives and acted swiftly to stop the shooter and save others. Their courage helped prevent even more senseless deaths, and we honor their tireless commitment to protecting us all. We Texans are standing together tonight united against all forms of hatred and violence.
Subsequently, in a statement released on Twitter, President Donald Trump said, “Just briefed by Attorney General Barr about the shootings in Texas. FBI and Law Enforcement is fully engaged. More to follow.”
Just briefed by Attorney General Barr about the shootings in Texas. FBI and Law Enforcement is fully engaged. More to follow.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2019
This occurred slightly shy of one month since 22 people were killed at an El Paso Walmart, located about 285 miles to the west of Odessa.
Anyone who believes they may have family members who are victims in this situation are urged to go to the Ector County Annex at 1010 E. 8th St., or visit www.safeandwell.com.