ODESSA, Texas — The cities of Odessa and Midland grieved and searched for answers after a shooter killed at least seven people and wounded 22 more as he drove through West Texas roads on Saturday.
Troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety attempted to stop a gold sedan on Interstate 20, between the cities of Odessa and Midland, at 3:15 p.m. local time, for a “routine” traffic violation. The driver fired a rifle at the troopers and struck one of them, The Washington Post reported Saturday, citing police. The gunman fled and drove west on the highway while shooting at pedestrians and motorists.
The shooter hijacked a U.S. Postal Service van in Odessa and continued to fire, driving through the city. He injured at least three police officers. At the Cinergy movie theater in Odessa, police exchanged gunfire with the shooter, who Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said was a white man in his 30s, killing him.
Local, state and federal officials are investigating. At a Sunday press conference, officials declined to identify the shooter or discuss his motivations.
“I am not naming the subject,” Odessa police chief Michael Gerke said at a news conference held at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin on Sunday. “I refuse to. I am not going to give him any notoriety.”
At a press conference Sunday afternoon, officials said the dead ranged in age from 15-years-old to 57.
Among those injured was a 17-month-old child named Anderson Davis. Davis was hit by shrapnel in her right chest. Family members say the shooting tore a hole through her bottom lip and tongue and her front teeth were knocked out. The baby is in stable condition, according to Hailey Wilkerson, a friend of the family. Wilkerson spoke to Davis’s mother last night, and says “she was still in shock.”
“They’re an amazing family, you don’t ever think something like this will happen to somebody you know personally,” Wilkerson said. “All they want was for their baby to be better.”
Anderson Davis. (Courtesy of the Davis family)
Several of the victims are still being treated at local hospitals. The Odessa Regional Medical Center treated five people. Three have been discharged, and two remain in critical but stable condition, said Madison Tate, a spokeswoman for the hospital.
Residents of Odessa and Midland spent much of Saturday afternoon on lockdown, waiting for news. Even after officials announced the shooter had been killed, they stayed in on Saturday night. The streets were quiet, and many restaurants were closed. Local delivery drivers were sent home. Many open stores were drive-thru only, and the employees remained locked safely inside until their shifts ended.
This was Texas’s second mass shooting in August. A gunman killed 22 people and injured dozens in a massacre at a Walmart in El Paso on the morning of Aug. 3.
Michael Brice-Saddler contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.
This story is developing and will be updated.