Exactly a month after the El Paso massacre that left 22 people dead, Texas was about to experience a new kind of mass shooter.
The initial report over the Midland police radio came after two Department of Public Safety troopers stopped a white man in his 30s for making a left turn without signaling.
“We got a trooper down, shots fired, needing assistance. 131 westbound,” the Midland dispatcher said, referring to mile marker 131 of Interstate 20. She reported that EMS was responding. She also said that more calls of more shooting were coming in.
“We’ve got a shooter,” she said. “We’ve got shots fired on the line, 911.”
“Do we have an active shooter?” a cop inquired.
“The shooter left in a vehicle, Toyota, westbound on I-20,” the dispatcher replied.
“What is the status of the trooper?” another cop inquired.
“They’re working on the trooper right now,” somebody radioed from the scene. “He is talking and responsive. They’re going to transport the trooper.”
The dispatcher repeated, “Shooter in a Toyota headed westbound,” adding, “toward Odessa.”
The dispatcher then announced, “We’ve got a gunshot victim at marker 126.”
“Do we have EMS on that one too?” somebody inquired.
A second ambulance was indeed on the way to mile marker 126 as the wounded trooper was loaded into the first one at mile marker 131.
“They're transporting the trooper to the Memorial now,” the dispatcher said meaning Midland Memorial Hospital. “The trooper is en route to the ER.”
Somebody asked the status of the other gunshot victim.
“He was shot in the gut, left lower gut,” a cop at the scene reported. “Troopers are working on him right now.”
More reports of more shooting were coming in and one of the emergency response operators was apparently having trouble keeping up
“Dispatch... we have multiple lines, multiple gunshot victims. I’m doing the best I can.”
A field supervisor warned the responding paramedics over the air, “EMS...Make sure you got your vest handy.”
Gangs often do drive-by shootings and there have been serial shooters who periodically fire at random motorists one or two at a time. But this was a mass shooter committing mayhem on the move.
“We have an active shooter on the interstate,” a cop said.
A moment later, the dispatcher reported, “There's another gunshot victim at mile marker 125.”
And then, “Got another gunshot victim at 129. We need an ambulance at 129.”
An EMS supervisor instructed an ambulance to go to “another gunshot victim.”
“Which one?” a voice replied. “I have four of them on I-20 right now. We’re getting multiple calls for multiple victims.”
“We got one in a ditch,” somebody said.
A cop offered a warning.
“All units...Looks like a .223 round, long rifle.”
That meant likely an assault rifle, which would make this mass shooter not so different than other shooters in terms of weaponry. A cop reported on a truck driver who had been found beyond saving.
“Gunshot wound to the head of this victim in his 18- wheeler,” the cop reported. “He is DOS [dead on the scene.]”
The cop advised, “There is a gentleman going up and down the interstate right now shooting people. That’s what’s going on right now.”
Another report came from where three people had been shot.
“They’ve loaded two, headed to the ER. We’re now waiting for an ambulance”
“Another gunshot victim,” another voice said.
“Another gunshot shot victim,” yet another voice said. “We got a gunshot victim walking around, shot in the arm.”
A police supervisor radioed an order.
“Anybody in the direction where this guy’s possibly headed, I need you to get civilians to cover immediately. I need you to gear up with hard plate [body armor] if you have them, long guns if you got it, but most important, get civilians to cover.”
“What’s the direction, the direction the suspect is heading?” somebody asked.
“The last update I got, Odessa,” the supervisor replied “In case he goes that way, protect your civilians.”
An EMS crew reported. “Bringing another gunshot victim to your location in critical condition.”
Another EMS member radioed, “My victim said it was a passenger vehicle with a long barrel sticking out the passenger window.”
Somebody reported that the suspect might now be in a different vehicle.
“A mail truck,” she said, going on emphasize, “a m-a-i-l truck.”
One alarmed cop radioed for the whole city of Midland to be put on lockdown.
“Get on the news media, shut down Midland,” he said.
But Midland was east.
“Mail truck last seen heading westbound...toward Odessa,” the dispatcher noted.
“We just got a report of another gunshot victim at mile marker 126,” a voice said.
“Do you have a victim at mile marker 126?” somebody else inquired.
“That’s affirmative,” a third person replied.
Then came a report of shooting the Cinergy cinema and entertainment center in Odessa.
“Sounds like there’s shots inside,” a cop radioed.
“You said there are shots inside?” a supervisor asked “Go! Go! Go! Don't wait.”
“Laser tag area of Cinergy has been cleared,” a cop reported.
“Laser tag is not cleared,” somebody reported
So many more victims had already been taken to the hospital in Odessa that ambulances were instructed to take any others to Midland, which was also full, but was preparing to fly the overflow to Lubbock.
“Bring the patients to Midland Memorial,” an official said on the radio. “We’ve got a helicopter coming …We’ll start flying them out.”
A voice came on to remind everybody to be on the lookout for the U.S. Postal Service van.
“Active shooting!” a Midland cop radioed a moment later. “Shots fired right now... Suspect vehicle went westbound”
The cop then cried, “I’m hit! I’m hit. Headquarters, I’m hit!”
A moment later, a Midland cop who identified himself by his number, began shouting into his radio.
“1456. SHOTS FIRED! SHOTS FIRED! SHOTS FIRED!
The cops then reported, “He just left the vehicle behind Cinergy.”
A supervisor called for the armored car, saying, “Get Bearcat toward Cinergy.”
The officer who gave identified himself as 1456, reported he had officers from the Odessa Police Department and the Department of Public Safety with him.
“Do we have any other shooters we’re looking for right now?” a supervisor asked.
“Negative,” 1456 replied.
“Give me a status on your people,” the supervisor said.
1456 was so adrenalized that his response is hard to make out in the recording, but he seemed to say everybody was okay.
“We’re going to push on,” 1456 then said.
“Don’t be in a rush,” the supervisor advised. “Make sure you got plenty of personnel and plenty of coverage. We don’t need to rush up on this.”
The radio was filled with excited shouts.
“Any available units, we have civilians, they’re in a bad crossfire,” a cop reported. “We need them out.”
“Where’s the shooter at?” somebody asked.
1456 returned to the the air, calmer, clearer.
“The shooter that I shot at, shot is behind Cinergy,” he said. “They’re checking on him now. I believe he’s going to be DOS.”
“One suspect’s down, in custody,” somebody said, reiterating, “One guy’s been shot, and he’s down.”
Somebody added, “Suspect wearing an orange shirt. White male, behind Cinergy.”
Just under an hour after that first report, it was over.
“We’re going to need one more ambulance,” a voice said.
Seven people were killed and nearly 20 people were injured. Three cops had been wounded. The shooter was dead following a shootout with police.
A supervisor announced on the radio, “DPS advises there’s no active shooter right now in Odessa.”