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West Texas shooter had ‘long spiral down’

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 9/02/19, 04:17 pm

UPDATE: A West Texas gunman lost his job and called the police and FBI before going on a shooting spree on Saturday. The shooter, Seth Aaron Ator, “was on a long spiral down” before the killings, FBI special agent Christopher Combs said on Monday. Ator’s former employer, Journey Oilfield Services, also called 911 after firing him on Saturday, but Ator left before police showed up. He made rambling statements to the police on the phone, Combs said, and lived in a “strange residence” that reflected a troubled mental state.

OUR EARLIER REPORT (9:51 a.m.): Police still don’t know why a gunman went on a shooting rampage that killed seven people Saturday in West Texas. Seth Aaron Ator, 36, had just been fired from his trucking job before he opened fire on officers making a routine traffic stop. He then sped through the cities of Midland and Odessa, shooting at random. At one point, he hijacked a mail carrier truck, killing its driver. He shot more than 20 others before he died in a shootout with police outside a movie theater in Odessa.

How are the cities coping? At a prayer vigil Sunday, Midland Mayor Jerry Morales described the shock and confusion of residents of the area, known for its oil industry. “We’re out here in the middle of nowhere,” he said. “All we’ve talked about is oil forever. And then this happens.”

Dig deeper: Read about some of the victims, including a 15-year-old high school student, a father of two, and a 17-month-old girl who survived a gunshot wound to the face, in the Midland Reporter-Telegram. Several police officers were also injured but survived.

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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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