MIDLAND/ODESSA, TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — After another mass shooting took place in Texas Saturday afternoon, Governor Greg Abbott said the status quo in his state is “unacceptable.”
The chaos erupted just after 3 p.m. Aug. 31, when the shooting suspect, identified as 36-year-old Seth Ator, was stopped by a Department of Public Safety trooper for a traffic stop when he opened fire, then fled — proceeding to shoot people at random.
Police initially believed there were two active shooters driving in two separate vehicles in both cities, but confirmed at a news conference Sunday that there was only one suspect, who was in his own vehicle then hijacked a mail truck.
Police officials also confirmed that seven victims have died, as well as the suspect.
Odessa police spokesman Steve LeSueur said that at least one person remains in “life-threatening” condition. Authorities said the gunman shot more than 20 people before being shot and killed by an officer outside a movie theater.
During Sunday’s conference, Governor Abbott gave praise to health care providers for their composure during Saturday’s events.
Among the injured were a Midland County DPS trooper, a Midland police officer and an Odessa police officer. A 17-month-old girl was also shot, but she is now in stable condition.
“I want to express my deepest sorrow for the families who have lost a loved one, for all the victims who’ve been wounded. The hurt you feel in incalculable, but you must hold onto to the hope, and we are seeing this already with the family of one of the victims,” Abbott said.
Moments before the conference, Abbott said he received a text from the mother of the 17-month-old:
Thank you all for praying. This is all of our worst nightmare, but thank God she’s alive and relatively well. Toddlers are funny because they can get shot, but still want to run around and play… We are thanking God for that. Her mouth is pretty bad but will heal and can be fixed.
The girl is set to undergo surgery Monday to remove the shrapnel from her chest, and to fix her lip and mouth, and to get a better look at her tongue.
As for police, officials said in the upcoming days they’re investigating 15 crime scenes and have to execute a search warrant at the suspect’s residence in Ector County.
Several federal agencies are now involved in the investigation. The FBI has 130 team members working on the case, as well as personnel from the DEA, ATF and the U.S. Postal Service.
FBI officials took a moment to praise local police for preventing the gunman from going inside the busy, Labor Day weekend-packed movie theatre.
“In the midst of a man driving down the highway shooting at people, local law enforcement and state troopers pursued him and stopped him from going into a movie theater, and having another event of mass violence,” FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs said.
Ator has been previously arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and evading arrest.
This shooting occurred just shy of one month since 22 people were killed at an El Paso Walmart, located about 285 miles west of Odessa.