Seven dead, twenty two injured in latest mass shooting near Odessa, TX

By Jeremy Mauser || Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of ABC News

On Saturday, August 31, yet another mass shooting took place on American soil. Just weeks after the El Paso shooting which killed 22, a man murdered seven people and wounded another twenty-two in Odessa, Texas.

Texas troopers pulled Seth Ator, 36, over for failing to signal a turn properly on Saturday. Ator, having been fired from his trucking job earlier in the day, used an assault rifle-type weapon to shoot at the officers before speeding away.

While driving on the highway and various streets, Ator shot at residents and motorists randomly. He then hijacked a postal truck, left his Honda behind, and continued shooting at innocent bystanders during his 20-mile trek into Odessa. Police officers stopped him in a movie theater parking lot and killed him during a shootout. 

Those injured in the ordeal include a seventeen-month-old girl, three law enforcement officers, and a postal worker who was on the phone with her sister as she was shot. The victims who died from their injuries range from fifteen to fifty-seven years old.

Following the attacks, law enforcement officials stated that the motive was unclear, they believed that he acted alone, and they had fifteen different crimes scenes and numerous vehicles to investigate.

One of Ator’s neighbors revealed to police and the media, including CNN, that the suspect had previously, while holding a rifle, yelled at her for placing her garbage in a dumpster. At other points in time, he went to his roof and shot at animals from above.

In line with reactions to similar attacks, American citizens – including politicians—were divided on how to respond to the shooting. For instance, President Donald Trump offered thoughts and prayers without any concrete policy proposals, reacting similarly to the aftermaths of other recent shootings.

Furthermore, according to NBC News, Trump claimed that the Odessa shooting “really hasn’t changed anything” in regard to how legislators will approach potential gun control legislation. This contrasts the president’s initial consideration of enhanced gun control laws following the El Paso shooting, although he later opposed such legislation after a conversation with National Rifle Association leaders.

A few hours after the shooting, new Texan gun laws passed prior to the tragedy went into effect. These new laws include looser gun restrictions and a legal right to carry weapons on school grounds, in apartments, and in places of worship.

Other politicians, including candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination, responded as well. Texan politician and El Paso native Beto O’Rourke, who gained attention based on his response to the El Paso shooting, responded to Republicans’ reactions with the following while speaking on CNN:

“The rhetoric that we’ve used, the thoughts and prayers…it has done nothing to stop the epidemic of gun violence…so yes, this is f—ed up.” He also responded to journalist Kolten Parker’s report of the gunman using an “AR-type” rifle with a tweet stating, “Buy them all back.”

Fellow candidate and mayor of San Antonio Julian Castro also issues public statements on the matter, tweeting out, “My prayers are with our country and with West Texas tonight-not prayers that absolve us from inaction-but that we will each find the strength within us to act.”

According to NBC News, American evangelicals also voiced their opinions in the masses. Texas’s luintenant governor Dan Patrick stated on Fox & Friends that this shooting -among others- stems from “a video game industry that teaches young people to kill” and “God no longer being a central part of American culture.”NBC further reported that Patrick and other conservatives have argued for an increase in the number of “good guys with guns” rather than gun control legislation.

As Odessa and the country continue to deal with the heartbreak that stems from such an attack, no clear answers on how the government will respond emerge from the confusion.

Sophomore Jeremy Mauser is a staff writer. His email is jmauser@fandm.edu.

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