While authorities described the gunman, Samuel Cassidy, as “a highly disgruntled VTA employee for many years,” which may have contributed to him targeting the victims — Isaac Smith, a Sacramento-area therapist, contended that stress and isolation from the pandemic could have fueled his actions.
“The type of stress can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, if you will, if you lack a lot of coping skills and tools,” Smith told FOX 40 of Sacramento.
“In my mind, yes, there is a correlation because now it’s going to be more than ever that you see violence with people trying to get their needs met,” added therapist Kyrra Christian.
Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said Cassidy appeared to target specific individuals, and all nine victims were employees of the Valley Transportation Authority, which had endured months of essential work during the pandemic, reports said.
While a motive has yet to be determined, the gunman was found to have harbored a hatred for his workplace when he was detained by federal officials several years ago.
Upon returning from an August 2016 trip to the Philippines, Cassidy was found with books about terrorism and notes about how much he hated the Valley Transportation Authority, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by the Wall Street Journal.
Cassidy’s ex-wife said he also talked about killing people at work more than a decade ago.
“I never believed him, and it never happened. Until now,” Cecilia Nelms told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “He could dwell on things.”
Cassidy worked for the VTA for nine years before he went on a shooting rampage at the rail yard. He took his own life as Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputies responded to the chaotic scene.
The therapists said they believe communication and providing a supportive work environment could help prevent future tragedies, according to FOX 40.
“The higher-ups, let the people that are really doing the work decide what is going to help them continue to do the work in a way that’s not damaging to them,” Christian said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.