At least five people were killed in West Texas after a man who was stopped by state troopers when his vehicle failed to signal a left turn opened fire and fled, authorities said.
The suspect shot more than 20 people as he continued to drive before he was killed by officers outside a cinema.
The shooting began Saturday afternoon with an interstate traffic stop where gunfire was exchanged with police, setting off a chaotic rampage during which the suspect hijacked a mail carrier truck and began firing at random as he drove in the area of Odessa and Midland, two cities in the heart of Texas oil country more than 300 miles (483 kilometers) west of Dallas.
Police initially reported that there could be more than one shooter, but Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke later said there was only one.
“The suspect continued shooting at innocent civilians all over Odessa,” a statement from Odessa police said.
Gerke described the suspect as a white male in his 30s. He did not name him or a motive but said he has some idea who the gunman is.
The terrifying chain of events began when Texas state troopers tried pulling over a gold car mid-Saturday afternoon on Interstate 20 for failing to signal a left turn, Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said. Before the vehicle came to a complete stop, the driver “pointed a rifle toward the rear window of his car and fired several shots” toward the patrol car stopping him. The gunshots struck one of two troopers inside the patrol car, Cesinger said, after which the gunman fled and continued shooting, including two other police officers. The condition of the three law enforcement officers injured was not immediately released.
Gerke said that in addition to the injured officers, there were at least 21 civilian shooting victims. He said at least five people died. He did not say whether the shooter was included among those five dead, and it was not clear whether he was including the five dead among the at least 21 civilian shooting victims.
Shauna Saxton was one of the terrified drivers who said she was a target during his rampage. She was driving with her husband and grandson in Odessa and had paused at a stoplight when they heard loud pops.
“I looked over my shoulder to the left and the gold car pulled up and the man was there and he had a very large gun and it was pointing at me,” she told TV station KOSA.
Saxton said she was trapped because there were two cars in front of her. “I started honking my horn. I started swerving and we got a little ahead of him and then for whatever reason the cars in front of me kind of parted,” she said sobbing. She said that their vehicle escaped from the shooter and they heard three more shots as they sped away.
Gerke did not go into detail about the chase, but the movie theater where the suspect was killed is more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) from where state troopers originally pulled over the gunman.