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The mass shooter who killed at least seven people and wounded 22 in the Midland and Odessa area of Texas has been identified as 36-year-old Seth Ator.
At a Sunday afternoon news conference, Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said police knew the shooter’s identity, but refused to release it to the media. Gerke said he wouldn’t give the mass shooter additional notoriety.
The shooter was later named in a Facebook post by the Odessa Police Department.
The incident began when a gold-colored car was stopped by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper for failing to signal.
Police say the shooter grabbed a rifle and shot at a pair of troopers through the rear-view window – wounding one – before driving away. He then sped off and continued his rampage, firing at motorists and pedestrians before hijacking a U.S. Postal Service truck.
The shooter was killed after being chased by officers from neighboring cities Midland and Odessa.
At the news conference, Gerke confirmed seven people had died with the victims ranging in age from 15 to 57.
“Very sincerely I say to those families I offer my apologies and my condolences,” Gerke said.
Gerke said investigators are still researching potential motives for the shooting, but said law enforcement is confident that only one shooter was involved. Initial reports from law enforcement on social media suggested the possibility of a second shooter. Gerke credited the confusion to the shooter switching vehicles.
Background on the shooter:
Saturday’s mass shooting was not Ator’s only encounter with law enforcement.
Records from McLennan County Court in Waco, Texas, show Ator was arrested Aug. 3, 2001, for trespassing and evading arrest – both misdemeanors – to which Ator pleaded guilty in February 2002. He was sentenced to two years of “court probation.” It’s not clear what restrictions that probation entailed.
Ator doesn’t have much of a digital footprint on first glance. Searches under his name yield few results on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Public records list Ator’s address in Lorena, Texas – a small city with a population of roughly 1,800 people, according to census data. The city is approximately 300 miles east of Odessa-Midland.
Records also suggest Ator attended Texas State Technical College in Waco, Texas, in 2005. Ator also appears to have attended McLennan Community College – also in Waco – between 2007 and 2013.