VTA shooting survivor says he saw co-workers take ‘last breath’

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON/AP) – Nine people were tragically killed on Wednesday in a shooting at a VTA yard rail in San Jose.

Kirk Bertolet, a transit employee, spoke to The Associated Press describing the chilling scene as it unfolded.

“I heard the group, my coworkers over there yelling, screaming, calling, call the police. And then the shooting continued and the shooting continued. And I went told the other two guys, it’s an active shooter, lock the room down, barricaded the door,” Bertolet said.

Bertolet was at work when Sam Cassidy opened fire and fatally shot his co-workers before killing himself.

Bertolet said he tried to help his colleagues but it was too late.

“He made sure they were dead. And I watched some of my coworkers breathe their last breath, and they were all gone,” Bertolet said.

“I was stunned at who he shot. And, and I understand it. I understand what, what pushed him. Sam was always on the outside. He was never in the group. He was never accepted by anybody there. He was always that, that guy that never partaking in anything that the people were doing. And, you know, you look back and you go, yeah, it fits. It fits the whole profile. It fits everything that was going on,” he continued. “He was pissed off at certain people. He was angry and he took his vengeance out on very specific people. He shot people. He let others live. He walked by other people as calmly as could be. And he went into the building and started shooting over there and targeting very specific people.”

Sam Cassidy, who worked for the VTA since at least 2012, was described by his ex-wife as having a bad temper and would tell her that he wanted to kill people at work.

A neighbor said that he was ‘lonely’ and ‘strange,’ and never appeared to have any visitors.

According to Bertolet, he and Cassidy were cordial and would greet each other at work. Bertolet said he felt like if he was in the area, Cassidy wouldn’t hurt him.

“The thing that I had to deal with was sitting in our office. Cowering in fear and realizing me and my coworker was like, we’re not allowed to conceal carry, we’re not allowed to carry guns, and we could have stopped what that person was doing,” Bertolet said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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