• September 16, 2019

First victim’s funeral today - Odessa American: Local News

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First victim’s funeral today

Abbott issues executive orders aimed at prevention

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Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 5:28 pm

Bits of information continue to trickle out about a gunman who killed 7 people and injured 25 others during a wild shooting spree around mostly northeast Odessa before he was gunned down himself by law enforcement near Cinergy Theatre.

A previous supervisor of Seth Ator, the 36-year-old gunman spoke about his previous employee, but said he didn’t have many interactions with him.

Marlon Hale was identified by first and last name in series of text messages that were delivered to the Odessa American by an unidentified man on Wednesday afternoon.

The OA has not verified that the text messages were from the deceased gunman Seth Ator but made the Odessa Police Department aware of the messages. Two OPD officers and an FBI agent drove to the OA offices late Wednesday afternoon for a copy of the messages.

OPD spokesperson Cpl. Steve LeSueur said over the phone Thursday afternoon that those text messages were submitted as evidence.

On Thursday afternoon, Hale spoke with the OA, but said he only remembered Ator in passing.

Hale said he served as Ator’s supervisor several years ago and didn’t recall any complaints made against the deceased gunman. Hale also described Ator as “quiet.”

“I’ve spoke to him before, but I can’t say that I knew him real well,” Hale said.

Though Hale never remembered a complaint or a behavioral issue filed against Ator, Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis stated in a text message that Ector County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to his West Odessa property in January to retrieve a set of work keys that Ator didn’t return after he was terminated from another employer.

Griffis said deputies arrived at Ator’s West Odessa property at 9:11 a.m. Jan. 22 and left at 9:28 a.m. Griffis said to his knowledge the work truck wasn’t there when the keys were picked up.

Information about Ator’s mental state continues to be made public as well and has been spoken about by legislators and law enforcement officials.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told members of the media after a Wednesday lunch at UTPB’s Presidential Museum and Leadership Library that Ator had a serious mental illness.

FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs and FBI Assistant Special Agent Daniel Ramos each said during separate interviews that Ator’s West Odessa property gave great insight to his mental state.

CNN reported on Wednesday evening that Ator failed a background check when he attempted to purchase a firearm in 2014 because he had earlier been adjudicated ‘a mental defective” and was temporarily committed to an institution.

Ator was reportedly committed to an unidentified institution in McLennan County in 2006 because he was deemed a danger to himself and/or to others.

The funeral of Leilah Hernandez, a 15-year-old OHS student, is today and is the first of Ator’s victims to be laid to rest. She and her brother, Nathan Hernandez, 18, were shot in a car dealership parking lot.

The shooting spree that shocked Odessans started after Ator was pulled over by DPS Trooper Chuck Pryor for a minor traffic infraction. That occurred just after Ator was fired and after both he and his employer call 911.

Ator also called the FBI tipline and rambled and said that people committed “atrocities” against him. FBI and OPD officials have said he did not make any threats during either call. He shot Pryor and then drove around Odessa randomly shooting at people eventually killing postal worker Mary Granados and carjacking her postal mini-van. He drove the van and continued his shooting spree until confronted by multiple law enforcement officers near Odessa’s Cinergy Theatre.

The shootings and questions about his mental state and how he acquired the high-powered AR 15 has become a political football of sorts as Republicans and Democrats call for some type of action both at the state and federal levels.

On Thursday morning, Gov. Greg Abbott signed eight executive orders, which are reportedly aimed to prevent further mass shootings.

The first executive order, which will begin within 30 days of it being signed, detailed “the Texas Department of Public Safety shall develop standardized intake questions that can be used by all Texas law-enforcement agencies to better identify whether a person calling the agency has information that should be reported to the Texas Suspicious Activity Reporting Network.”

A detailed description of the other seven executive orders can be found on the OA website at oaoa.com.

Following the executive order announcement, Odessa’s State Rep. Brooks Landgraf said the orders will go a long way in providing the resources law enforcement and the public need to report suspicious activity and help prevent mass shootings.

“I am proud to support the action of the Governor today, and I look forward to working with him to create a safer and better future for all of our communities,” Landgraf said in a statement.

Ator wasn’t able to purchase a firearm in 2014 but CNN on Wednesday reported a home in Lubbock is associated with the alleged seller of the firearm used by Ator in the Odessa shooting spree. Federal and state officials searched the home late Wednesday. Ator reportedly obtained an AR-15 through a private sale, which allowed him to evade a federal background check. Multiple attempts by the Odessa American to reach the ATF went unanswered Thursday.

There are a total of 11 shooting victims left at Medical Center Hospital, Odessa Regional Medical Center and Midland Memorial Hospital. As of Thursday afternoon, there were six patients in fair condition at MCH, three patients in stable condition at Midland Memorial and two patients at ORMC.

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