At least 24 people were shot and five people were killed yesterday in a series of shootings in the area of Midland and Odessa, Texas.
A suspect, who local police identified only as a white male in his mid-30s, was shot and killed at an Odessa movie theater, police said.
Odessa police chief Michael Gerke said that the tally of victims included three injured law enforcement officers and at least 21 civilians. It was not clear whether the number of dead included the shooter, nor was it clear whether that number was included among the 21 civilian victims.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) said the rampage began when two troopers attempted to stop a gold car on Interstate 20 westbound at 3:13 p.m.
“Prior to the vehicle coming to a complete stop, the male driver (and only occupant in the vehicle) pointed a rifle toward the rear window of his car and fired several shots toward the DPS patrol unit,” the DPS sad. “The patrol unit was occupied by two troopers, and one was hit by the gunfire.”
“The suspect fled the scene and continued shooting innocent people, including a Midland police officer and an Odessa police officer. The trooper is in serious but stable condition, and the two other officers are in stable condition at a local hospital,” the department said.
After the initial shooting, the suspect continued west into Odessa and shot another person on Interstate 20 before driving around the eastern part of the city, where there are multiple scenes and victims, the official said. At some point, the subject stole a mail van and committed additional shootings, officials said.
The suspect then traveled back east in the stolen mail truck toward the movie theater, where various law enforcement agencies contacted him. Gunfire was exchanged, and the suspect was killed.
Gurke declined to name the suspect but said he had some idea of who the man was.
Medical Center Hospital in Odessa said it received 13 shooting victims, seven of whom were in critical condition. Two others were in serious condition and one patient was deceased. One victim, a 17-month-old child, was airlifted to a level one trauma center in Lubbock, about two hours north of Odessa. The other two victims had been treated and released as of Saturday evening.
Midland Memorial Hospital said it was treating six wounded victims. Three of those victims were in critical condition and three were in stable condition.
“I was born and raised here, I do not recall anything like this ever happening,” Midland Mayor Jerry Morales said. “It’s hard to swallow. It’s hard to understand. There’s a lot of learning going on. It was very rapid.”
The suspect’s killing brought an end to a chaotic afternoon, during which police initially reported that there were two shooters in two separate vehicles. At a news conference Saturday evening, Gerke said police believe the suspect killed at the movie theater was the only gunman.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) urged the public to avoid I-20 in Odessa, Midland and Big Spring. Residents of Midland and Odessa were also urged to stay inside.
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin was on lockdown for several hours. The lockdown was lifted at around 6:30 p.m.
Odessa is about 20 miles southwest of Midland. Both cities are more than 300 miles west of Dallas.