Photos: Odessa mass shooting response

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(Tim Fischer/Midland Reporter-Telegram via AP)

ODESSA, Texas (AP) — At least five people were dead 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, shooting more than 20 people before he was killed by officers outside a movie theater, authorities said Saturday. Three law enforcement officers were among the injured.

The shooting began with an interstate traffic stop in the heart of Texas oil country where gunfire was exchanged with police, setting off a chaotic afternoon during which the suspect hijacked a U.S. Postal Service vehicle and began firing at random in the area of Odessa and Midland, hitting multiple people. Cell phone video showed people running out of a movie theater, and as Odessa television station KOSA aired breaking developments on live TV, their broadcast was interrupted by police telling them they had to clear the area.

Police initially reported that there could be more than one shooter, but Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke later said there was only one.

“Once this individual was taken out of the picture, there have been no more victims,” Gerke 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 spokesman 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 innocent people,” including two police officers.

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