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Independent Investigation Concludes “No Indication” VTA Had Advance Warning of 2021 Mass Shooting at Guadalupe Light Rail Yard

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority announced today that its Board of Directors voted to release the Investigative Findings surrounding the tragic events of May 26, 2021.

“This Board is committed to transparency,” said Chappie Jones, the Board Chair, “and we felt releasing the findings was very important.”  The findings are based on a review of files and documents pertaining to the incident and the shooter, along with interviews of nearly four dozen witnesses.

After months of research, the independent investigator concluded that VTA possessed no prior knowledge nor any warning that the employee/shooter was planning a mass shooting.  

While the shooter had been vocal with colleagues prior to the incident about his dissatisfaction with aspects of his work, and some of his colleagues had complained about unpleasant interactions with him, none of the complaints were such that they would have put VTA on notice that there would be an imminent workplace shooting.

As previously reported in the media, there were five documented cases of workplace misconduct against the perpetrator.

The investigation did note that the shooter was detained briefly by the Department of Homeland Security at San Francisco International Airport in 2016 upon his return from an overseas trip. He had documents at the time that indicated his unhappiness with his job, but they contained no information about planning a mass shooting. Notably, Homeland Security did not notify local law enforcement or VTA of this incident.         

“Like so many of my colleagues, I was incredibly shocked and heartbroken by this horrific event,” said VTA General Manager Carolyn Gonot. “We’ve taken what happened to heart and are implementing changes to try to prevent something like this from ever happening again.”  Foremost among these changes is the availability of mental health counselling for all VTA employees and their families.  Together with the employee unions, VTA established access to these services through the 526 Resiliency Center and assistance from the County of Santa Clara.

Additionally, Gonot’s highest priority is to identify organizational challenges and implement changes in workplace climate and culture.  

VTA’s Board of Directors also provided additional benefits to the victims’ families to help them cope with their tragic loss.  As part of the healing process, VTA demolished the primary buildings where the tragedy occurred and is now planning for permanent memorials on, and around, that site.

“VTA will continue to work to honor those who lost their lives and to ensure we have a workplace where everyone can feel safe and be safe,” Gonot said.

The Report of Investigative Findings may be viewed here: https://www.vta.org/sites/default/files/2022-12/VTAGuadalupeInvestigativeFindings12.12.22.pdf

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