ODESSA, Texas — On Monday afternoon, several law enforcement agencies held a press conference at the University of Texas at the Permian Basin to update the public on the investigation of the mass shooting that occurred on Saturday, August 31.
Those agencies included the Odessa Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said the shooter called both 911 and then the FBI tip line 15 minutes before he was pulled over by a DPS Trooper. Gerke said the shooter did not make a threat in those two calls.
These calls were made after he was fired by his employer, and he was rambling during the calls, Gerke said.
“My understanding is the trooper pulled him over for a traffic violation,” Gerke said. “They were not actively looking for this particular vehicle.”
Gerke said they have not determined how the shooter was able to obtain a firearm.
“I have no idea how he came into possession of this firearm,” Gerke said. “The ATF is doing that part of this investigation and as far as I know, at this point in time, that has not been determined.”
A spokesperson for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms said that information will be released when it is available.
The name of the shooter did not come up during the press conference, but he was publicly identified on Sunday as Seth Ator, 36, of Ector County.
Gerke said they cannot go into detail on the shooter’s criminal history, but he said based on what they know, the history shouldn’t have impacted his ability to own a gun.
“We can’t be specific about his criminal history,” he said. “I will tell you the interactions that he’s had with the Odessa Police Department have been of very minor incidents that would not have had any impact on his ability to own a firearm.”
According to the ATF spokesperson, there was a National Crime Information Center hit on his name and he was denied a gun.
Gerke said of the 15 crime scenes law enforcement investigated, they are down to two. He thanked all of the local, state and federal agencies for their work on this investigation.
Gerke said investigators continue to be unclear on a possible motive.
“As far as motive and if he had those weapons with him, that is a part of the ongoing investigation that we just don’t feel comfortable talking about at this point,” Gerke said. “Who will ever know what the motive is? The only way to determine that is if we could talk to him and we can’t.”
Christopher Combs, FBI special agent in charge, said they have finished their search of the shooter’s residence. He said the shooter’s residence reflected a downward spiral that led this man to violence.
“We completed the search of his property yesterday,” Combs said. “We are going through that…it’s a very strange residence. It’s very small. I can tell you the conditions reflect what we believe his mental state was.”
“We also appreciate all the thoughts and prayers from our West Texas community, from the state of Texas and from the United States,” Gerke said.