Ninth victim of VTA shooting in San Jose dies, county identifies victims
Officials provide updates Wednesday on a mass shooting at a VTA rail yard that left eight people dead. Photo by Vicente Vera.

    Santa Clara County’s medical examiner reported late Wednesday another VTA employee died of his injuries in an area hospital after Wednesday’s mass shooting at the agency’s light rail yard.

    Alex Ward Fritch, 49, was taken to the hospital earlier in the day with critical injuries. He died Wednesday evening, bringing the death toll from the shooting rampage to nine.

    The county also released the names of eight others killed in the shooting Wednesday at a San Jose VTA rail yard.

    “The staff and leadership of the Medical Examiner-Coroner and the entire county of Santa Clara leadership want to express their deepest condolences to the families and individuals impacted by this senseless tragedy,” officials said in a statement.

    The other eight victims are identified as:

    • Paul Delacruz Megia, age 42
    • Taptejdeep Singh, age 36
    • Adrian Balleza, age 29
    • Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, age 35
    • Timothy Michael Romo, age 49
    • Michael Joseph Rudometkin, age 40
    • Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, age 63
    • Lars Kepler Lane, age 63


    Officials said their family members have been notified.

    The nine people were killed early Wednesday after 57-year-old VTA technician Samuel Cassidy stormed a VTA union meeting at the Guadalupe Light Rail Yard at 100 West Younger Avenue in downtown San Jose. The shooter, who turned the gun on himself, has been described by friends and acquaintances as a “loner” who had become increasingly disgruntled with work in recent years. The motive for the shooting is unclear.

    VTA spokesperson Stacey Handler Ross told San José Spotlight the shooting occurred inside a building at the rail yard.

    “This is a horrific, tragic situation and our hearts go out to all of our employees who were affected and involved,” Ross said, “and all the families of those employees. VTA is 2,100 employees, but it’s a family. We’re very close.” 

    At a news conference Wednesday, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Russell Davis said law enforcement received reports of explosive devices in the building. The bomb squad continued to search for suspicious devices late into the afternoon Wednesday.

    San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata said more than 40 employees were present at the time of the shooting.

    County leaders late Wednesday mourned the loss of the VTA workers, while calling for stronger gun control measures.

    “Like our entire community, we are shaken by today’s horrific incident at the VTA rail yard,” Supervisor Otto Lee said. “VTA is family and they are a key part of our Santa Clara County community. Our hearts are with those directly impacted, and we stand in support with all of our VTA workers.”

    Supervisor Cindy Chavez reflected on how VTA workers made the ultimate sacrifice during the pandemic—risking their lives to ensure buses and light rail trains continued to operate.

    “Throughout the pandemic, even during the worst surges, light rail never stopped running. The buses never stopped running,” she said. “The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting happened less than two years ago and now our community is facing another horrific gun-related crime, more senseless deaths and shattered families. As we grieve for the victims, and help and comfort the survivors, we should all commit to the work that needs to be done so this does not happen again.”

    A candlelight vigil is planned for the victims at 6 p.m. Thursday at San Jose City Hall.

    Anyone directly connected to VTA or this incident should call the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s support line at (408) 299-2311. A reunification center with counselors is available at 70 West Hedding Street. A family assistance center opened at noon Wednesday at the Red Cross, 2731 N. First Street in San Jose.

    Light rail services have been suspended until further notice.

    To learn how you can help the victims of Wednesday’s mass shooting, click here.

    Comment Policy (updated 11/1/2021): We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, hate speech, excess profanity or make verifiably false statements. Comments are moderated and approved by administrators.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.