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7 Killed, 20 Injured in Mass Shooting After Texas Gunman Hijacks US Postal Van; Suspect Shot Dead

Three police officers were injured in the incident which began with a traffic stop. The suspect was shot dead in an exchange of fire with officers.

AFP

Updated:September 1, 2019, 10:47 PM IST
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7 Killed, 20 Injured in Mass Shooting After Texas Gunman Hijacks US Postal Van; Suspect Shot Dead
People are evacuated from Cinergy Odessa cinema following a shooting in Odessa, Texas, U.S. in this still image taken from a social media video August 31, 2019. Rick Lobo via REUTERS
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Houston: At least seven persons, including three officers, were killed and 20 injured when a gunman opened fire at random in the second mass shooting in the US State of Texas in a month, police said.

The shooting - the 38th mass killing by firearms in the US this year - occurred on Saturday in the West Texas cities of Midland and Odessa.

The gunman, who was white and in his mid-30s, was shot dead by police at the Cinergy movie theatre after a chase. However, police did not identify the shooter by his name.

The gunman opened fire around 3 pm (local time) after he was pulled over by traffic officials. He shot at the trooper who stopped him and began shooting people at random, local media quoted Chief Michael Gerke of the Odessa Police Department as saying.

The driver then began shooting at other people in several other locations. At one point, he abandoned his car and stole a postal truck before continuing his spree. He was shot dead by police at a cinema complex.

"About 20 people were also injured. Those included a 17-month-old girl and three law enforcement officers," hospital and police officials said.

"It's unclear why police pulled over the unidentified gunman or what his motive was," Gerke said, described him as a white male in his 30s.

US President Donald Trump thanked police and first responders for "handling the terrible shooting tragedy".

"A very tough and sad situation!" he tweeted.

Initially, it was suspected that two people were involved in the shooting and police had said they were believed to be driving around separately in a gold/white-coloured Toyota vehicle and a stolen US Postal Service van.

"There is no active shooter at this time. All agencies are investigating reports of possible suspects," the Midland Police Department said in a Facebook post.

During the shooting, the authorities urged public to get off the road "and use extreme caution".

Texas Governor Greg Abbott described the incident as a "senseless and cowardly attack".

"The state of Texas and the Department of Public Safety are working closely with local law enforcement to provide resources as needed and deliver justice for this heinous attack," he said in a statement.

"I thank the first responders who have acted swiftly and admirably under pressure, and I want to remind all Texans that we will not allow the Lone Star State to be overrun by hatred and violence. We will unite, as Texans always do, to respond to this tragedy," he added.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement that he was "horrified to see such a senseless act".

"I'm heartbroken for the families of the victims in the Odessa and Midland shooting. Our children deserve a future without multiple mass shootings in one month. We need gun safety reform," US Senator and candidate for president Kamala Harris tweeted.

The mass shooting incident in the western Texas cities, located 32-km apart, happened nearly a month after a gunman killed 22 people and injured over two dozen at a Walmart store in El Paso in the far western part of the state. The gunman in that shooting was arrested and charged.

Firearms caused nearly 40,000 deaths in the US in 2017, which was highest in 50 years, according to official data.

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