Midland-Odessa Shooting

Leslie Chen, Staff Writer

On Aug. 31, a gunman opened fire from a moving vehicle traveling between the cities of Odessa and Midland in Texas. Eight people, including the gunman, were killed, and 24 remain injured. This is the third mass shooting to take place in the U.S. during August. Police later identified the shooter as 36-year-old Seth Ator, a trucker from Odessa.

The shooting began around 3:00 p.m. during a traffic stop, where a Texas state trooper was shot in an attempt to stop Ator over his failure to signal a left turn. Ator continued into Odessa, shooting people along the way. In Odessa, he abandoned his car and hijacked a U.S. Postal Service truck, continuing to drive and firing indiscriminately on the highway. Authorities confirmed that Ator was killed by police just before he entered a crowded movie theater, preventing what many said could have been an even deadlier rampage.

Authorities have since released the names of the victims killed, ages ranging from 15 to 57. One of the victims killed was Mary Granados, a 29-year-old U.S. Postal worker; her postal vehicle was the one the shooter hijacked. Other victims include Leilah Hernandez, Edwin Peregrino, Joe Griffith, Rodolfo Arco, Kameron Brown, and Raul Garcia. Among the injured were three police officers, all of whom are in stable condition.

The day after the shooting, the police finally identified the shooter. The police revealed Ator carried an AR-15 type weapon, but they didn’t know how he obtained it. Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said in a press conference that much of Ator’s motive is unclear. “It’s a very chaotic situation [that is] all being pieced together,” he stated. However, according to a report by The New York Times, Ator had been fired from his job just hours before the shooting started.

In response to the shooting, Texas governor Greg Abbott expressed his sorrow for the victims, lamenting, “I’m tired of the dying of people in the state of Texas. Too many Texans are mourning.” Abbott added that new gun laws were needed, although he didn’t outline specific legislation or policy changes. When asked whether AR-style weapons should be banned, Abbott pointed out that not every mass shooting has been committed with such weapons. “We need solutions to keep guns out of the hands of criminals while protecting the Second Amendment,” he said. Abbott’s comments were made on the same day eight new gun legislation laws took effect in Texas. The laws ease restrictions on guns and have been praised by the National Rifle Association. President Trump has brought up that his administration would try to balance public safety while also protecting the Second Amendment, saying “this includes strong measures to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous and deranged individuals” as well as “substantial reforms to the nation’s broken mental health system.”

As Texan communities continue to search for the killer’s motive, Odessa’s mayor David Turner told National Public Radio that the focus needs to be on the victims’ families. “We covet everyone’s prayers for those who were injured and for those loved ones who were lost,” he said. Turner also added that the community needs to stick together for support. “In West Texas, we’re known for being strong and independent,” he asserted. “It’s time for us to come together and love on those who need it right now.”

Photo courtesy of USATODAY.COM