Text messages show paranoia


A series of rambling, paranoid and often incoherent text messages were delivered to the Odessa American by an unidentified man who claimed the messages were from the 36-year-old gunman who killed 7 people and injured 25 others in a mass shooting on Saturday in Odessa.

The messages shown from “Seth” detailed paranoia about law enforcement agencies, previous employers and work colleagues. The OA has not verified that the text messages were from the deceased gunman Seth Ator but did make OPD aware of the messages. The messages do include naming employers that Ator is known to have previously worked for.

The text messages spanned from July 17 to July 25 and were dropped off in 12 sheets of paper to the Odessa American office on Wednesday afternoon.

Text messages from “Seth,” which is believed to be Ator, stated that law enforcement was trying to murder him, one of the text messages stated. He also detailed law enforcement agencies weren’t enforcing Texas Penal Code 33.07, which is online impersonation, since 2011.

The messages talk about child pornography, Twin Peaks girls and how hundreds of girls from OHS could testify about it.

Ator also stated that people were cyberstalking him. He also stated he’s being continuously harassed by local law enforcement.

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

Cruz said it’s his understanding the gunman attempted to buy a firearm, but couldn’t because he failed a background check.

Ator reportedly obtained an AR-15 through a private sale, which allowed him to evade a federal background check. The seller of the firearm has yet to be revealed and multiple attempts by the Odessa American to reach the ATF went unanswered.

The OA also confirmed through a source that the gun was purchased in Texas and that the gunman drove several hours from Odessa to obtain the gun.

“We need to discover more what the facts are, what the circumstances are and much of my discussion with law enforcement today concerned what were the warning signs that we had that this individual had a serious mental illness that posed a danger to himself or to others,” Cruz said during the press conference.

Ator’s mental state has been brought up before by multiple FBI agents.

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.

Neither Combs nor Ramos detailed if there were additional firearms found inside his property.

Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis said in a previous statement the only time ECSO deputies were called out to Ator’s West Odessa property was in 2017 after he reported a burglary.

However, when that search was broadened to include the area of Draper Drive, which is near Ator’s property, Griffis said there were about 25 calls over the last 18 months. Griffis said those calls ranged from animal complaints to shots fired.

Griffis said it would take some time to research how many of those calls were about shots fired, when each happened and what the details of each call were.

During a phone interview on Wednesday afternoon, Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Sgt. Oscar Villarreal said that all active crime scenes have been completed.

OPD spokesperson Cpl. Steve LeSueur said over the phone that he believes Ator was pulled over by DPS Trooper Chuck Pryor about 3:17 p.m. Saturday, shot the trooper at 3:25 p.m. and then Ator went on a shooting spree in which he killed seven people and wounded 24 more. Ator was shot and killed by law enforcement agencies at 4:17 p.m. in a gun battle near Cinergy Theatre.

“It’s still under investigation to exactly where he went,” LeSueur said. “(Ator) went all over the place.”