The shooter has been named as 36-year-old Seth Aaron Ator. Early reports indicate that he was an Odessa resident with little or no digital footprint.
Latest reports suggest that seven people are now dead. The identity of the shooter has still not been released.
A sprawling crime scene spread across two West Texas towns and the highway connecting them on the afternoon of August 31. An unidentified individual, described only as a white man in his 30s, killed five people and wounded at least 21 others. He shot three police officers from as many jurisdictions before meeting his end by police gunfire in Odessa. It didn’t take long for presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke to start circling in apparent hopes of boosting his gun-control policy, but it appears Texas is having none of it.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the events started just after 3pm, when two Texas state troopers attempted a traffic stop on a gold-colored vehicle on Interstate 20 in Midland. The driver, who was alone in his vehicle, then shot at the troopers while still in motion, with a rifle, through the rear glass. One of the troopers was shot, and hospitalized in “serious but stable condition.” The unnamed assassin then took off on a killing spree that would take him through to Odessa, TX. He was gunned down by police outside the Cynergy entertainment complex in Odessa.
Fog of War
There were multiple false reports widely spread throughout the day as details, and understanding of the facts, were hard to come by. One of the more prominent untrue stories was that there were multiple shooters. This is presumably due to the shooter switching vehicles during the incident – he stole a United States Postal Service truck. After the first shots fired at the troopers who pulled him over, the killer fired seemingly at random people as he drove.
Clearing up the confusion about whether multiple killers were on the loose, Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said: “Once this individual was taken out of the picture, there have been no more victims.”
Robert Francis to the Rescue
Gun control and gun politics are now ever-present in the aftermath of multiple murders, and these shootings are no exception. Presidential aspirant and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) was the first candidate to endorse the new firearm law proposal called “A Peace Plan for a Safer America” last week. That plan, backed by celebrity gun control spokesman David Hogg, includes confiscating millions of now-legal firearms by financial incentive or brute force, as well as mandating costly ongoing training for gun owners. O’Rourke, seeker of the Democratic nomination for president, tweeted:
“We don’t know how many have been killed. We don’t know the motivation. But here’s what we do know: This is fu**** up.” (Expletive present in the original.)
This may be very good news, politically speaking, for Mr. O’Rourke. “Beto O’Rourke Reboots His Presidential Campaign With A Focus On Guns And Trump” was the headline last week. Will the public be so fed up with gun violence it finds succor in his profanity-laced tirade and proposals to seize its guns?
Texas actually seems to be going the other way.
Lone Star Gun Laws
This mass shooting happened to precede, by one day, new legislation in Texas designed to strengthen the right to keep and bear arms. Here is a summary of the new laws’ effects:
- Licensed gun owners can store guns and ammunition in locked places in their vehicles – even on school campuses – as long as the weapon and ammo are out of sight. This includes school employees who are licensed gun owners.
- The state removed the maximum amount of gun-carrying marshals who can be allowed on school campuses.
- Licensed gun owners can carry their weapon(s) into a place of worship unless there are signs that prohibit guns. Just two years ago, there was a massacre where 26 people were killed by a gunman at a Sutherland Springs church in Texas.
- Landlords can no longer prohibit gun owners who are legally licensed to carry the ability to possess weapons or ammunition on the property.
- Triggered by the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, a new law allows gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons without a license for up to 48 hours after the governor orders an evacuation.
- Foster families can now store their guns and ammunition together instead of having to store guns and ammo separately.
While the shooter has now been named, details are still sketchy on the motivation of this spree. Perhaps the only thing that is known for sure right now is that people on both sides of politics will use this tragedy as yet another reason to push their agenda.