NEWS
01/09/2019 11:49 AM IST

At Least 5 Dead, 21 Shot In West Texas Shooting Spree

Police shot and killed one suspect who they say went on a shooting spree in the Midland and Odessa areas shortly after a traffic stop.

At least five people were killed when a suspect went on a shooting spree Saturday afternoon in Odessa, Texas, in the middle of the Labor Day weekend, according to police.

The suspect, described as a white male in his mid-30s, led police on a chase across the city while firing at people in various locations. Amid the chase, the suspect abandoned his car and hijacked a U.S. Postal Service vehicle.

Law enforcement officers with the Odessa and Midland police departments and the state Department of Public Safety were able to confront the suspect in the parking lot of Cinergy, a movie theater in Odessa, where they shot and killed him.

At least 21 people were injured during the shooting, Odessa police Chief Michael Gerke said in a press conference Saturday evening. One of the injured victims is a 17-month-old baby

Three officers were also injured, Gerke added, including one officer with the Odessa Police Department, one with the Midland Police Department and one with the state Department of Public Safety.

“It has been confirmed that the active shooter was shot and killed at the Cinergy in Odessa,” police in Midland, a neighboring city, announced Saturday evening. “There is no active shooter at this time. All agencies are investigating reports of possible suspects.”

About an hour previously, a police spokesperson in Odessa told HuffPost that shootings had been taking place “literally all around town.”

“We’re just telling everyone to stay in their house right now,” she said.

The shooting began shortly after a traffic stop when a DPS state trooper attempted to pull over the suspect, who was driving a gold Honda, at around 3:17 p.m., Gerke said during the press conference.

When the Honda stopped, Gerke said, the suspect shot at the trooper and continued to drive westbound toward Odessa. During the chase, the suspect shot at multiple victims at various places, according to police.

The Odessa Police Department warned residents on Facebook that there was a gunman “shooting at random people.”

The Midland Memorial Hospital received six patients from the shooting, three who were in critical condition and three who were stable, a hospital spokesperson told HuffPost. There were 13 injured victims being treated at the Medical Center Health System in Odessa, the hospital’s CEO, Russell Tippin, said during a news conference.

Of those 13 victims, two were treated and released; seven were in critical condition, yet stable after undergoing surgery; and two were in serious condition. One victim was transferred to a pediatric center because they were under the age of 2, and one victim died at the hospital.

The 17-month-old is in “satisfactory condition,” a hospital spokesperson told HuffPost

During an earlier news conference, Tippin said he incorrectly told press that the hospital had 14 victims in its care. 

It’s unclear whether the victim who died at the hospital was included in the death toll that police reported earlier. The Odessa Police Department did not respond to HuffPost’s request for clarification.

Initial police reports suggested that there were two shooters in separate cars, though Gerke later clarified that there was likely only one suspect involved in the shootings. 

“Once this individual was taken out of the picture, there have been no more victims,” Gerke told reporters.

While reporting on the shooting, CB7 news anchors were forced to evacuate their studio at Music City Mall in Odessa as police searched the area.

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, located in Odessa, was placed on lockdown as police searched for the suspect.

In a statement, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called the shooting a “senseless and cowardly attack” and said state officials were working closely with local law enforcement.

President Donald Trump said he was briefed about the shootings and said the FBI was “fully engaged” in the situation.

As the shooting was taking place, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, a Texas native,tweeted his support to the people of Midland and Odessa.

At an event later Saturday, O’Rourke, a former member of Congress, said he didn’t know the exact details of the shooting in Western Texas, but he was clearly disgusted.

“We do know this is fucked up,” he told his supporters. “We do know that this has to stop in our country.”

Four weeks earlier, O’Rourke took a break from his campaign to return to his hometown of El Paso after a mass shooting there left 22 dead.

Less than 24 hours after the massacre in El Paso, another mass shooting left nine people dead in Dayton, Ohio. 

Hilary Hanson, Sebastian Murdock and Kimberley Richards contributed to this report.