The gunman who killed seven people and injured 22 others in Odessa, Texas on Saturday failed his background check but was able to get his hands on an AR-style rifle anyway, state officials said.
The gunman, identified as 36-year-old Seth Ator, was fatally shot after he shot a state trooper with an “AR-style rifle” and began to fire at random people. Officials said he had been on a long downward “spiral” leading up to the massacre and had been fired from his job the morning of the shooting.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican who opposes legislation to expand gun background checks, tweeted that Ator failed his background check.
“Not only did the Odessa gunman have a criminal history......he also previously failed a gun purchase background check in Texas......& he didn’t go thru a background check for the gun he used in Odessa,” Abbott tweeted. “We must keep guns out of criminals’ hands.”
His tweet linked to an Austin Statesman article that revealed the gunman had been arrested for trespassing and evading arrest in 2001 when he was 18. He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charges. His sentence was deferred.
Officials told Reuters that it was unclear why he failed his background check since his local police said that his charges were not serious enough to warrant him being banned from having a gun.
Gunman was on downward ‘spiral’ ahead of attack:
Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of FBI’s San Antonio division, said at a news conference that the gunman called the FBI’s tip line and made “rambling” comments “about some of the atrocities that he felt he had gone through” before the shooting but did not make any threats.
“He was a long spiral of going down,” Combs said. “He didn’t wake up Saturday morning and walk into his company and then it happened. He went to that company in trouble, probably been in trouble for a while ... we really need the public’s help to reach out to us when they see people in that downward spiral that may be on that road to violence.”
A neighbor told CNN that the gunman had previously threatened her with a rifle.
Veronica Alonzo told the network that the gunman came to her house with a rifle last month and threatened her for leaving trash in a nearby dumpster. Alonzo said she called the police but they never responded because the “property does not show up on GPS and is difficult to find,” CNN reported. “Alonzo said that the shooter’s home had no running water or electricity. She said she saw him sitting in his gold Toyota Camry with the heat on when the weather was cold.”
Texas loosens gun laws after shooting:
Hours after the Odessa shooting, multiple new state laws loosening gun restrictions went into effect.
“The new laws loosen restrictions on gun ownership and use in schools, foster homes, apartment buildings, and houses of worship,” Vox reported. “These new laws allow licensed gun owners to store firearms in a locked car in a school parking lot and ban private apartment buildings from prohibiting gun owners from storing their weapons in their rental units. They also make it easier for people to bring guns into houses of worship and allow some foster homes to store guns.”