A gunman opened fire on a shopping center in West Texas on Saturday afternoon, leaving five dead and dozens wounded.
According to reports, the gunman drove down the highway between the cities of Midland and Odessa, and proceeded to shoot at drivers, shoppers, and anyone passing by.
Police officers and state troopers tried to keep drivers off the highways. A local university urged students and faculty to stay in their dorm rooms and offices. A television station in Odessa, KOSA-TV, evacuated their studio while they were covering the breaking news live on the air.
Police said the shooting suspect was shot dead and the threat was over. They described the suspect as a white man in his mid-30s.
The shooting occurs just one day before Texas’ new gun laws take effect, some of which include:
House Bill 1143 says a school district cannot prohibit licensed gun owners, including school employees, from storing a firearm or ammunition in a locked vehicle on a school parking lot — provided they are not in plain view.
Senate Bill 535 clarifies the possession of firearms at churches, synagogues or other places of worship. It allows licensed handgun owners to legally carry their weapons in places of worship.
House Bill 1387 loosens restrictions on how many armed school marshals a school district can appoint.
House Bill 302 bans homeowners or landlords of rental property from prohibiting residents from lawfully possessing, carrying, transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition on the property.
House Bill 1177 prohibits residents from being charged with a crime for carrying a handgun while evacuating from a state or local disaster area.
House Bill 2363 allows some foster homes to store firearms and ammunition in a safe, locked and secure place for personal protection.
The New York Times reported the following:
The mayor of Midland, Jerry Morales, said the shootings began shortly after 4 p.m. on Interstate 20 and Highway 191, which connects Midland to Odessa. As the attack was unfolding, the police in Odessa said on Facebook that a gunman was driving around “shooting at random people.”
The attack came just four weeks after one of the deadliest mass shootings in Texas history, when a 21-year-old gunman opened fire at a Walmart in the border city of El Paso on Aug. 3 and killed 22 people. Midland is about 300 miles east of El Paso.
Cinergy Entertainment Group, which operates the theater where police shot and killed a suspect, released a statement on the West Texas shooting:
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and the families of this senseless tragedy. The safety of our team members and guest are our top priority. We are grateful for the swift response from local authorities and first responders throughout the Midland/Odessa community. Even though we avoided crisis within our facility, we will continue to work with law enforcement to provide any help they may need. Please refer all additional questions to the proper local, state and/or federal authorities.”