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2nd mass shooting in a month leaves another Texas community reeling

In Texas, seven people were killed and 22 wounded in Odessa during a mass shooting Saturday. After state troopers stopped the alleged gunman for driving his car erratically, he shot one of them and then sped away, firing at people randomly. The massacre comes less than a month after one in El Paso left 22 dead. William Brangham talks to Mitch Borden of Marfa Public Radio for the latest updates.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The weekend shooting rampage in West Texas has left two more American communities in mourning. Seven people were killed in Odessa and nearby Midland on Saturday, and another 22 people were wounded, including a 17-month-old girl.

    It came after state troopers stopped the alleged shooter for driving his car erratically. He shot one of the troopers and then sped away, firing at people randomly.

    William Brangham gets an update.

  • William Brangham:

    Judy, there was an emotional vigil last night for victims of the shooting.

    The gunman's motive is still unknown. He was apparently fired from his job just before the traffic stop that started the shootings. This, of course, all comes less than a month since the massacre at the Walmart in El Paso that killed 22 people.

    Mitch Borden of Marfa Public Radio joins me from Midland via Skype.

    Mitch, thank you very much for doing this.

    Could you just tell me, first off, what we know about the seven victims who were killed in this rampage?

  • Mitch Borden:

    We know they ranged in age by quite a bit, the youngest being 15 and the oldest being 57.

    The youngest was a high school student, a sophomore at a local Odessa high school. And other than that, information is coming out slowly about the victims. There are fund-raisers. But, so far, at least from what I have seen, they haven't released a complete list of the names of the dead.

  • William Brangham:

    And this is such a strange type of mass shooting, where it's going sort of between these two cities from location to location.

    How are the two communities of Midland and Odessa doing, grappling with all of this?

  • Mitch Borden:

    Just to clear things up, the traffic stop probably started in Midland County, but it mostly took place in Odessa. The shooter never went to the city limits of Midland.

    And both communities, I think, are just in shock. After being at the vigil last night, people are ready to heal, but people are scared. This happened in so many places, so quickly, so many people were affected, that, you know, it's only, what, two days later. Like, people are trying to still just understand how this happened.

  • William Brangham:

    And Governor Abbott today said we still don't know anything about the motive of what drove this man to act this way.

    But he did say something, that they found out something about him failing some background checks for purchasing guns. Can you tell us more about that?

  • Mitch Borden:

    Yes, it does — it did come out in a presser held earlier today by the — by law enforcement officials that he had in the past failed a background check.

    They didn't release any more information. They also said they didn't know how he obtained the assault-style weapon that he used in the shooting. Other than that, we will just have to wait for them to release more information.

  • William Brangham:

    So this massacre, following El Paso, also occurs right when a series of new state laws go into effect that would loosen prior gun regulations in the state of Texas.

    What are those changes?

  • Mitch Borden:

    There's a lot. There were eight laws that came into effect on September 1.

    But a lot of them make it easier to carry guns in certain settings, such as houses of worship during a disaster. One increased the amount of school marshals that can carry a firearm.

    And at a presser — a presser yesterday, Governor Abbott addressed a crowd and talked to them about action was needed, but he didn't specify what type of action.

    And when asked about, like, these regulations, he stated that some of them make situations safer, such as the school one, where school marshal — more school marshals can be armed.

    So he didn't want to really engage on the idea that maybe these regulations make things unsafe. And, so far, there hasn't been any more comment around Odessa on this matter.

  • William Brangham:

    I mean, calls for new gun control measures always follow these types of shootings. We saw that after El Paso and Dayton, and we certainly saw it here.

    And I know former Congressman Beto O'Rourke was in the region. I know you were with — I take it, with him earlier today. He has made much of his presidential campaign based on gun control. He's called for some very aggressive measures, like mandatory buybacks of assault-style weapons.

    Did he talk about that today? And, if so, what is your sense of, how does that play in Texas to Texas ears?

  • Mitch Borden:

    You know, I — when I saw him, he was visiting a Labor Day celebration, a potluck at a union hall — or, like, a celebration put on by unions.

    And he was just there trying to spread support from all of West Texas, El Paso. The shooting in El Paso happened less than 30 days ago. And it was just about trying to bring the communities together.

    And he also said action needed to be taken. He didn't go into, like — and during his speech, he didn't go into the certain policies, but he did express like, yes, more things need to be done on a policy level. He wasn't shy about that. I don't think he's usually shy about that.

    How that will play in Texas, I think Texas is a red state. I think a lot of people love guns in this state and are very protective of their Second Amendment rights. At the same time, two mass shootings in less than 30 days.

    I think some people do want change. And I think you can get really granular when you go into what type of change people want. But I think people are getting to their wit's end with this violence.

  • William Brangham:

    Mitch Borden of Marfa Public Radio, thank you very much for your time and for your reporting.

  • Mitch Borden:

    Thank you.

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