Texas shooting rampage leaves seven dead

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Victims were shot at random, police say

The death toll in Saturday's mass shooting in Texas has risen to seven, police in the US state say.

The shooting, Texas' second in August, began when police stopped a car between the cities of Midland and Odessa.

The gunman wounded at least 20 people, including a 17-month-old girl. At one point, he abandoned his car and stole a US postal vehicle.

Police later shot dead the gunman near a cinema. Officials say they believe he had no connection to terrorism.

The motive of the gunman, who was white and in his mid-30s, remains unclear.

The shooting occurred exactly four weeks after 22 people were killed by another gunman in the Texan city of El Paso.

On Sunday, Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said that those killed on Saturday were aged 15 to 57. He did not name them.

The gunman was shooting at random, targeting motorists and passers-by, he said.

Mr Gerke also said he would not name the killer to avoid giving him "any notoriety for what he did", but added that this would be done later.

Later, Odessa police named the gunman as Seth Aaron Ator, aged 36, from Odessa.

Among the injured on Saturday was Anderson Davis, a girl aged 17 months, who was hit in the face by a bullet fragment and airlifted to hospital.

"She has a hole in her bottom lip, a hole in her tongue, and her top and bottom teeth were knocked out," Haylee Wilkerson, a family friend, told BuzzFeed News.

"Her mom said she's up playing and running around like nothing ever happened. She's a strong little girl, added Ms Wilkerson.

The toddler was expected to have surgery on Sunday.

At least three of those injured were police officers - although the police say not all of them were shot. Some were cut by glass when their car windows were hit by bullets and shattered.

Saturday's incident began just after 15:00 (20:00 GMT) after two Texas Department of Public Safety officers pulled over a vehicle on a Midland highway, police said.

The driver then opened fire on the officers before driving away and shooting at other people in several other locations.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was "horrified to see such a senseless act". Texas Governor Greg Abbott said: "We will not allow the Lone Star State to be overrun by hatred and violence. We will unite, as Texans always do, to respond to this tragedy."

In a tweet, US President Donald Trump said he was being kept informed about the shootings.

Later, Vice-President Mike Pence said he and the Trump administration remained "absolutely determined to work with leaders in both parties in Congress to take steps that we can address and confront this scourge of mass atrocity in our country".

Amid a clamour in the aftermath of the Texas and Ohio shootings earlier this month for increased background checks on firearm purchases, Mr Trump had said he was "looking to do background checks".

But he appeared to reverse that position after a phone call with the chief executive of the National Rifle Association), Wayne LaPierre, saying: "I'm also very, very concerned with the Second Amendment, more so than most presidents would be. People don't realise we have very strong background checks right now."