On August 31st, 36-year-old Seth Ator killed seven people and injured an additional twenty-five injured in a shootout in Midland, Texas and Odessa, Texas. Earlier that morning, he had been fired from his job as a worker on one of West Texas’s oil fields, and according to officials at the site left work in a state of distress. Several hours later, around 3 p.m., Ator began to shoot at people indiscriminately. His first victim was a police officer who was pulled over on Interstate 20, the highway connecting Midland and Odessa. After shooting the first victim, Ator continued to drive along Interstate 20, from Midland towards Odessa, shooting other cars at random. At some point in his rampage, Ator killed the driver of a U.S. Postal Service van and drove it while he fired rapidly. Eventually, Ator crashed the van into a police car outside a movie theater in Odessa and was shot by authorities.
In total, Ator killed seven people and wounded seventeen more through gunshot wounds or as the result of his reckless driving. With the youngest victim being a 17-month-old girl wounded by shrapnel. He didn’t appear to have a specific target throughout his massacre, as he killed and wounded people regardless of their age, gender and race.
The West Texas shooting came less than a month after the devastating El Paso shooting, and as in the case of many of the major shootings this past year, Ator had obtained the AR-15 he used in the shooting legally at a gun show through a loophole in background check legislature. Rocio Martinez, Ator’s neighbour, told the New York Times that Ator had always seemed ‘off’ to her, and was a “loner who […] frightened her because he was always shooting guns outside his house.” The shooting came just after 10 new laws loosening gun restrictions in Texas were passed by state legislature, making Texas one of the most permissive states in the country regarding gun ownership. Although the shooting was acknowledged by President Trump, he stated that in terms of gun control legislation, “this [the shooting] hasn’t really changed anything.”
By Julianna Baldo