Coworker feared VTA shooter could "go postal"; Feds questioned him about hatred of VTA

Coworker feared VTA shooter could "go postal"; Feds questioned him about hatred of VTA
Source: Valley Transportation Authority
By Laila Weir - Published on June 11, 2021.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) had investigated and/or disciplined mass shooter Samuel Cassidy four times before he opened fire on coworkers two weeks ago. The investigations followed cases of "insubordination" and a verbal confrontation after which another worker said of Cassidy: “He scares me. If someone was to go postal, it’d be him.” 

Cassidy, a 20-year VTA employee, killed nine of his coworkers and himself in a VTA maintenance yard in San Jose on May 26. On Thursday, the VTA released numerous documents and a summary of relevant information from Cassidy’s personnel file, marking the first time the agency has acknowledged that Cassidy was well known as a difficult employee.

The agency emphasized that Cassidy had never been disciplined for making threats, but the documents give rise to a picture of an angry employee who hated his workplace and didn't get along with coworkers. And U.S. customs officials had actually detained Cassidy in 2016 after finding in his possession “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,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Tragically, it appears there's no indication the Department of Homeland Security informed VTA about that incident.

"So far, there is no indication of records in Cassidy’s VTA personnel file of any formal discipline for threatening behavior or violence during his 20-year career at VTA," the agency said in a statement. "Throughout this initial search, no documentation or history of complaints of Cassidy making racist or threatening remarks towards his colleagues has surfaced. Furthermore, no records have been located about information regarding Cassidy being provided by any federal agency (including the Department of Homeland Security) at any time."

The VTA said there were four separate incidents involving Cassidy that were elevated to management, prompting disciplinary actions that ranged from a verbal warning to a two-day leave without pay. The VTA statement summarized the four incidents:

July 16, 2019: Insubordination. Cassidy was sent home without pay for two days, as a result of refusing to follow company policy in signing out a two-way radio that was necessary to perform his job.

January 29, 2020: A verbal altercation between Cassidy and a coworker was reported to VTA Employee Relations and the VTA Office of Civil Rights. Upon questioning from a supervisor, a coworker reported that another unnamed employee stated of Cassidy “He scares me. If someone was to go postal, it’d be him.”  The individual refused to name the source of that comment. Upon further investigation, there was nothing in Cassidy’s disciplinary history, or additional information to explain or support that concern. The matter was referred back to Cassidy’s department manager. VTA is continuing to research this incident to see if there is any other relevant documentation to review and release.

October 21, 2020: Cassidy refused to attend a mandatory CPR recertification class citing his concern about the threat of COVID. A number of reasonable accommodations were provided to the employee with no ultimate resolution.

November 28, 2020. Unexcused leave and improper radio communication. After having trouble clocking in for a work shift, Cassidy inappropriately used a VTA two-way radio for personal communication, rather than for operational matters, which is against VTA policy. He left work without permission instead of resolving the problem.

The Mercury News also compiled a more detailed timeline of Cassidy's personnel history at VTA, from his initial hiring in 2001 — when the VTA noted in his file that he took medication for depression — up through his deadly attack last month.

The VTA previously released the names of Cassidy's nine victims: ​​​​​Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; Adrian Balleza, 29; Alex Ward Fritch, 49; Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35; Lars Kepler Lane, 63; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; and Timothy Michael Romo, 49.

The VTA said it is still reviewing a large volume of documents, including those related to Cassidy’s disciplinary history and behavior, in cooperation with the criminal investigation and in accordance with the California Public Records Act. The agency said there are thousands of pages of documents that include emails, attachments, and other materials still to review. VTA officials declined to comment further at this time, but said they would release additional information if they discover anything else relevant.