Police and sheriff’s deputies surround the area behind the Cinergy movie theater in Odessa, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, after reports of gunfire. Tim Fischer-AP
The gunman was killed at the Cinergy movie theater after he was stopped by police officers and sheriff’s deputies from multiple agencies.
Five people were killed and 21 more injured in a mass shooting in and around the cities of Odessa and Midland, Texas, Saturday afternoon.
Police confirmed that the shooter, a white man in his mid-30s, was killed by officers at the Cinergy movie theater in Odessa.
Among the victims are a student at Ector County Independent School District, who was killed, and a 17-month-old girl, who was wounded and flown to Lubbock for treatment.
The shootings sent the two neighboring west Texas cities into chaos as police hunted for the gunman. Businesses and hospitals went into lockdown. The gunman apparently switched vehicles, hijacking a Postal Service mail van, during his rampage. This caused police to initially report that there were two shooters roaming the area. They later clarified that there was only one gunman and that he is dead.
What happened in Midland and Odessa?
Odessa Police Chief Mike Gerke said that the incident began when the suspect was pulled over for a traffic stop by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper about 3:15 p.m. Central Time. The suspect shot the trooper and fled in a gold-colored Honda.
The traffic stop happened on Interstate 20, the highway that connects Midland and Odessa. At least one other person was shot on I-20, police said.
DPS troopers had attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the shooter’s vehicle on I-20, but before the vehicle came to a complete stop, the male driver, who was the only person in the vehicle, pointed a rifle towards the rear window of his car and fired several shots toward the patrol car.
Gerke said the gunman then shot multiple people on 42nd Street in Odessa.
At some point, the gunman hijacked a U.S. Postal Service van. Gerke said he believes the postal employee is among the victims.
Midland and Odessa (cities of about 140,000 and 100,000 people, respectively), are about 20 miles apart, connected by Interstate 20. They are about 240 miles east of El Paso, where a gunman targeting Hispanic victims killed 22 people at a Walmart on Aug. 3.
“This was a joint effort by a multitude of departments to find this animal and bring him to justice,” Gerke said at a later press conference.