The mass shooting that occurred in San Jose a few days ago is truly tragic. It is a direct reflection of our society’s inability to deal with unstable people and prevent them from carrying out terrible crimes. The shooter was a 57-year old man named Samuel Cassidy, an employee at the Valley Transportation Authority light rail maintenance yard. He kept to himself most of the time and had a hard time getting along with his coworkers; he even hated some of them and those were the ones he specifically targeted. Sadly, the shooting wasn’t a surprise to those who knew him. Five years ago, Cassidy was coming back from a trip to the Philippines when U.S. Customs stopped him. They found many documents relating to terrorism, bomb-making, and explosives. He was detained and interrogated but because he hadn’t committed any crimes, he was let go. Although customs detected him as a threat, they ultimately weren’t able to intercept. Instead of taking zero action whatsoever, they should’ve forced him to go to a specialized program that could help deflect him away from the path of hate. Cassidy was a troubled man who also happened to be a domestic abuser. He attacked his wife multiple times and sexually assaulted her. He always apologized afterwards and promised to never do it again, but he never stayed true to his word. Finally, his wife realized she had had enough and divorced him. Cassidy then had other girlfriends later on who, too, noticed his anger problems. He sexually assaulted some of them as well and one actually filed a restraining order against him. Many of Cassidy’s partners recall him talking about how he hated people and wanted to kill, but he never carried through with that threat. Over the years, he had collected an arsenal of gun, bombs, and explosives. He was all set to carry out a massacre and one final thing set him off. On the day the shooting occurred, Cassidy was actually supposed to attend a disciplinary hearing. However, he tried to avoid that and instead of attending the meeting, he set fire to his house and then drove to his workplace with three guns and killed nine people. When the police arrived and closed in on him, he shot and killed himself.
Cassidy was a man who spent his whole life devoted to hate, violence, and guns. I can’t help but think that this shooting probably wouldn’t have happened if U.S. Customs would have sent him off to get psychiatric help. This man should have been stopped years ago. Instead, he has left a legacy of grief behind for the families of the victims to deal with. This shooting could have been prevented if his situation was taken more seriously, but apparently no one realized how much of a danger he could be. Because of this mistake, nine people are dead, ten including Cassidy, and nine heartbroken families and communities are riddled with unimaginable grief. We need to do a better job at intercepting people when we find out they’re a potential danger to others. Shootings like this are going to keep happening until our society acquires the skills not only to detect these types of people, but to divert them as well and make it impossible for them to kill other people. We need to take away their guns, give them emotional skills training, mentor and roleplay with them, and teach them that hate is not the answer. Cassidy obviously had no emotional skills; he couldn’t get along with his coworkers, he attacked his wife, and he sexually assaulted other partners – basically he was headed for a lifetime of violence and disaster. No one gave him the skills he needed, no one tried to stop him, and no one took his guns and bombs away. America has turned into a polarized nation these past few years and this climate of hate is a perfect emotional incubator for people like Cassidy. We have too many hate-filled timebombs out there and they need to be stopped. These people need to be deflected and we need to show them that there is a better way of living. We need to show them how to love.