Shooter targets people at shopping centers in West Texas

By Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 6:54 p.m. ET, September 1, 2019
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8:51 p.m. ET, August 31, 2019

West Texas shooting occurred one day before new state laws easing gun restrictions take effect

From CNN's Laura Ly

The shootings in West Texas took place a day before a series of new state laws easing gun restrictions were set to take effect.

The new laws were passed in August and will go into effect Sunday, September 1.

Among the new laws:

  • 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 NRA informed their members of the new laws on Thursday, stating that the bills were “protecting your second amendment rights.”

8:39 p.m. ET, August 31, 2019

VP Mike Pence: 'We can address and confront this scourge of mass atrocity in our country'

From CNN's Tala Alrajjal

Speaking to reporters before boarding a plane for Poland on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence addressed the shootings in West Texas:

"Our hearts go out to all the victims and families who had loved ones lose their lives. We commend the law enforcement in Odessa for their swift and courageous response, but at the President’s direction we’ve deployed the full resources of the federal government. They’re on site. The president spoke to the attorney general. The FBI is already assisting local law enforcement in the investigation going forward."

Pence said he and the Trump administration "remain 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."

8:13 p.m. ET, August 31, 2019

Cinergy Entertainment Group releases statement on shooting

From CNN's Laura Ly

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.”

Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said earlier Saturday that the shooting suspect was shot and killed outside a Cinergy movie theater in Odessa.

8:08 p.m. ET, August 31, 2019

University of Texas Permian Basin asking students for safety checks

From CNN's Amanda Watts

The University of Texas Permian Basin in Odessa was on lockdown earlier Sunday, according to the school's Twitter account.

UTPB is asking all students who live on-campus to check-in with the school to verify they are safe. 

UTPB said students who do not live on campus, but may have been affected by the shooting, should contact the vice president of student development.

UTPB also said they will have counseling services available Saturday night beginning at 7 p.m. CDT.

8:00 p.m. ET, August 31, 2019

USPS says its inspectors are assisting law enforcement with the investigation

From CNN's Carma Hassan

The US Postal Service is working with law enforcement at the scene of the shooting.

“There are inspectors on the scene and inspectors en route to assist with the investigation,” USPS Inspection Service spokeswoman Silvia Torres told CNN.

Torres declined to comment on the condition of the mail carrier whose truck was stolen by the shooting suspect.

Earlier in a news conference, Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said he “would assume (the mail carrier) is part of the victim list," but was unsure of of the carrier's status.

8:15 p.m. ET, August 31, 2019

Witness describes shootout at movie theater

From CNN's Darran Simon

Alex Woods recorded video of the shootout between police and a suspect outside of the Cinergy movie theater in Odessa.

“When we had arrived about five minutes before the shooting had begun, I had no clue the shooter was even there,” Woods told CNN. “There was just police everywhere and there was a bunch of people behind the theater in the field walking and next thing you know this gunfire is going off.”

“Next thing you know, I hear a pop, so, I flip the camera to where the theaters at and I just see a bunch of gunfire going off,” Woods said.

“I could see the officer walking up to the mail van and discharging his weapon into it, and I believe that is when the shooter was killed."

Woods said it was a very surreal moment.

“I never thought it would happen in life,” he said. “It just all happened so quickly.”

7:45 p.m. ET, August 31, 2019

Medical Center Hospital treating 14 victims

From CNN's Amanda Watts

There are currently 14 victims being treated at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa, according to CEO Russell Tippin. No ages or conditions were provided. 

The hospital has a family staging area with grief counselors and social workers to provide support, Tippin said.

7:40 p.m. ET, August 31, 2019

Texas Attorney General: 'I am horrified to see such a senseless act' 

From CNN's Carma Hassan

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement on Twitter, in which he expressed his horror and thanked first responders.

8:10 p.m. ET, August 31, 2019

Odessa police chief: Suspect was a white male in his mid-30s

Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said the suspect of the Midland-Odessa shootings was a white male in his mid-30s.

The incident began at 3:17 p.m. CDT, when a Department of Public Safety officer attempted to make a traffic stop on a gold Honda, Gerke said. When the vehicle came to a stop, the occupant shot the officer.

The vehicle drove westbound into Odessa, where another person was shot. The suspect continued through Odessa to 42nd Street, where Gerke said "there were multiple victims."

The suspect abandoned his vehicle and stole a USPS mail truck, Gerke said. There were other victims after that, he added.

The suspect then drove eastbound toward the Cinergy movie theater, where he and officers exchanged fire. The suspect was fatally shot in the exchange, Gerke said.

Hear more from the police: