‘Such extreme steps’: San Jose killer intricately planned rail attack with a simple motive in mind

Samuel Cassidy prepared for years to unleash his rage.

He had weapons. He read up on terrorism and manifestos. He harbored bomb-making materials. He rigged his home to go up in an inferno as he set out to kill nine fellow employees at a light-rail hub in San Jose. 

While he plotted intricately for a mass attack, appearing like a terrorist on a mission, his motive was much simpler: He just hated his co-workers.

That’s the picture painted so far by law enforcement as detectives try to understand the pent-up animosity that Cassidy appears to have kindled for a decade against the people he worked alongside.

Cassidy, described by those who knew him as having alcohol issues, for years talked about his hatred of his workplace at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light rail hub. The details make clear the suspect employed tactics not routinely seen in mass shootings. 

“It really stands out when you have an individual like this who goes to such extreme steps,” said Ed Davis, a former commissioner for the Boston Police Department who helped lead the investigation into the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. “You have people with these burdens of something that was done to them and they fixate on them and it ends up turning into a decade-long vendetta.” 

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Exes say Cassidy had ‘two sides,’ talked about workplace violence

Long before Wednesday’s attack, Cassidy ranted about his job and co-workers — even threatening to kill.

Two women — an ex-wife of 10 years and an ex-girlfriend — offered a glimpse at Cassidy’s past, detailing his anger and alcohol issues, along with previous threats of workplace violence. 

Cecilia Nelms, who was married to Cassidy for about 10 years before they filed for divorce in 2005, told The Mercury News Cassidy had “two sides.”

She said he often was angry at co-workers and about his assignments at work. She told the outlet Cassidy thought the VTA was unfair with its work assignments, though she said she hasn’t spoken with him in about more than a decade. 

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