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San Jose Mass Shooter Had Been Stopped by CBP with ‘Books About Terrorism,’ Notes on Workplace Hatred

The gunman who killed nine co-workers Wednesday at a Valley Transportation Authority light rail yard in San Jose, Calif., had been stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents several years ago with concerning materials about hatred for his colleagues and terrorism.

Samuel Cassidy, 57, shot himself at the conclusion of the attack. Police said he carried three 9mm handguns and 32 loaded high-capacity (more than 10 rounds) magazines onto the worksite at about 6:30 a.m. that morning and appeared to target specific victims, who were all male. Thirty-nine rounds were fired by the gunman, and everyone struck by a bullet died from their wounds.

The victims of the May 26, 2021, San Jose mass shooting. (VTA)

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday that the FBI was assisting in the investigation, including determining a motive for the attack. “Based on recent developments in the investigation we can say that the suspect has been a highly disgruntled VTA employee for many years, which may have contributed to why he targeted VTA employees,” the department said in a statement.

Cassidy’s ex-wife told the San Francisco Chronicle that he would complain of other workers getting easier assignments at the rail yard and had a volatile temper. His ex-girlfriend said in court documents that Cassidy had violent mood swings, raped her and abused her.

Shortly after the shooting, the Wall Street Journal reported on a DHS memo stating that Cassidy had “books about terrorism and fear and manifestos…as well as a black memo book filled with lots of notes about how he hates the VTA” when he was stopped for secondary inspection upon returning to the United States from the Philippines on Aug. 8, 2016.

“When asked if he had problems with anybody at work, he stated ‘no,’” the memo added.

While not commenting on the Cassidy memo, a DHS spokeswoman told WSJ that the department started an internal review in February that includes “efforts to ensure law enforcement personnel have the tools and training to identify behavioral indicators associated with targeted violence and policy to improve information sharing with our partners.”

After that report, a DHS official told CNN that Cassidy had been stopped in part because of concerns about sex tourism, yet there was no indication that this was his reason to visit the Philippines. He traveled to the country at least one more time after being stopped in 2016.

The official said it did not appear that there was any follow-up action after the CBP stop.

Police said bomb-sniffing dogs detected explosive precursors in Cassidy’s locker at work, and Molotov cocktails along with more weapons were discovered at his home.

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a speciality in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, anti-Semitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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