7 killed, at least 19 others injured in mass shooting in Odessa, Texas: Police

vmargineanu/iStock(ODESSA, Texas) — Seven people were killed and at least 19 others injured when a gunman went on a rampage in Odessa and Midland in Western Texas on Saturday before he was shot to death in a gunfight with police, according to authorities.

The latest mass shooting in America came exactly four weeks after 22 people were gunned down at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and another nine people killed the next day by another gunman in Dayton, Ohio.

The suspect in Odessa, whose name has yet to be released by officials, allegedly launched the mass shooting after getting pulled over by police for a minor traffic violation, officials said. He then drove around in his vehicle randomly firing at victims in eight to 13 different locations, including a car dealership and a movie theater, police said.

The victims who were wounded included two police officers and a 17-month-old child, officials said.

Police initially said five people were killed, but that number included the shooter. On Sunday morning, Odessa Mayor David Turner said the number of people allegedly killed by the gunman rose overnight from four to seven.

The shootings unfolded just after 3 p.m. local time when a Texas Department of Public Safety officer pulled the suspect’s gold Honda over in a routine traffic stop, according to police.

As the officer approached the Honda, the suspect opened fire without warning, wounding the officer, officials said.

The gunman, armed with a semiautomatic handgun and multiple ammunition magazine clips, fled along Interstate 20 toward Odessa, targeting people in different locations between Odessa and Midland, a distance of about 20 miles, authorities said.

When he reached 42nd Street in Odessa, he opened fire, wounding several more people, authorities added.

As police from multiple agencies scrambled to stop the rolling rampage, authorities mistakenly thought there was two gunman after the suspect ditched his vehicle and allegedly carjacked a U.S. Postal Service van, officials said.

The alleged killer then sped toward the Cinergy center, a local entertainment complex that includes a cineplex and a laser-tag range.

Meztli Sanchez told ABC News that she was playing laser-tag with her 7-year-old son, when people rushed into the indoor range, screaming that the shooter was outside.

Sanchez said she, her son and other panicked patrons ran to the rear of the cineplex, where some ran into a field as more gunfire broke out.

“I grabbed my son and put him behind me and held him against the wall until the shooting stopped,” Sanchez told ABC News on Sunday morning when she returned to Cinergy center to pick up her truck, which she left in the parking lot.

The suspect, described by authorities as a white man in his 30s, was shot and killed by responding officers after he rammed at least one patrol cars with the stolen mail van, police said.

The motive for the shooting is under investigation, police said.

The Department of Public Safety officer’s injuries were non-life-threatening, Midland Mayor Jerry Morales told CNN.

A Midland police officer was also shot and underwent surgery, Morales said.

Midland Memorial Hospital received six patients and another 13 patients were taken to Medical Health Center, according to the hospital’s president, Russell Tippin.

The youngest victim, a 17-month-old child, was struck by shrapnel, police said.

Three of shooting victims died after being taken to hospitals, officials said.

Cinergy Entertainment, the entertainment center where the rampage came to an end, released a statement on Twitter calling the shooting a “senseless tragedy.”

“The safety of our team members and guests are our top priority and we are extremely grateful for the swift response from local authorities & first responders,” the statement read.

“The state of Texas and the Department of Public Safety are working closely with local law enforcement to provide resources as needed and deliver justice for this heinous attack,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement.

“We will not allow the Lone Star State to be overrun by hatred and violence. We will unite, as Texans always do, to respond to this tragedy,” he added. “We offer our unwavering support to the victims, their families, and all the people of Midland and Odessa.”

Abbott is expected to hold a news conference in Odessa on Sunday afternoon.

President Donald Trump tweeted that he’s been briefed by the attorney general.

“FBI and Law Enforcement is fully engaged,” he tweeted. “More to follow.”

The shooting came a day before eight new laws that ease restrictions on guns went into the effect in Texas, including prohibiting landlords from banning tenants from having guns in their apartments, and allowing people licensed to carry concealed weapons to have firearms in churches and other places of worship.

The Odessa-Midland rampage was the fifth mass shooting in Texas since September 2017 that have left a combined 72 people dead and 78 wounded.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.