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What We Know About SJ Shooter’s Mental Health History, Nothing.

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Yet another mass shooting occurred in California yesterday.  9 dead at the hands of a 57 year old gunmen in San Jose.   Details on the gunmen’s life, mental health and motives are spotty.  They usually are with mass shooters, these guys are typically loners, with no extensive recorded history of mental illness, or people who know them well.

We’ve never really taken mental health seriously in this country, mental healthcare is largely voluntary, expensive, and stigmatized in America.

Samuel Cassidy, the man who shot and killed 9 of his co-workers at a San Jose Valley Transportation Authority union meeting early Wednesday morning, had a history of domestic violence according to his wife and an ex girlfriend, but no criminal convictions, in fact no criminal history at all.

Samuel J Cassidy

There were warning signs.

His ex-wife said he used to return from work in a dark mood and talked about murdering his colleagues. “I never believed him, and it never happened. Until now,” Cecilia Nelms told the Associated Press.  That was in 2005, the two had not spoken in more than a decade since.

In court filings associated with a domestic violence restraining order Cassidy sought against his ex-girlfriend back in 2009, she describes being sexually assaulted and said he had major mood swings caused by bipolar disorder that were exacerbated by heavy drinking.

We don’t know if Cassidy ever received treatment or medication for his alleged bipolar disorder, or if he actually suffered from this condition.  People commonly mislabel behavior as ‘bipolar’, and his ex is definitely not a physician.

“Several times during the relationship he became intoxicated, enraged and forced himself on me sexually,” she alleged in the response to his petition for a restraining order against her.

His Ex-wife & Ex-girlfriend:

There was nothing in public records to indicate Cassidy ever got in trouble with the law. He received a traffic ticket in 2019 and sheriff’s officials said they were still investigating his background.

Neighbors told the press that Cassidy kept to himself, one neighbor said that he was mean, scary, unfriendly, and that he ‘didn’t talk to anybody’.

His neighbor:


This latest mass shooting was Santa Clara County’s second mass shooting in less than two years. A gunman killed three people and then himself at a popular garlic festival in Gilroy in July 2019.  Little was known about that 19 year old gunmen either, the FBI and local authorities called the killings ‘random’, for lack of evidence of a motive.

Lisa Pescara-Kovach is the chair of the Mass Violence Collaborative at the University of Toledo, an associate professor of educational psychology and the director for the Center of Targeted Violence and Suicide. She wrote and published a study on the myths of mental illness and mass shootings.

Pescara-Kovach told the press in 2019 that research often suggests that shooters are typically not physically imposing, not typically attractive and are “injustice collectors,” meaning that when things go poorly, they tend to blame others and frequently dwell on how they have been wronged.

Furthermore, they typically are set off by a catalyst, such as the loss of a job, spouse or parent, she added.

“There are so many factors that to reduce it to one thing is irresponsible,” Pescara-Kovach said. “What research does suggest is that individuals with severe mental illness (such as) schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are often the victims rather than the perpetrators. But some people with depression can try and commit suicide by cop and they may want to take people with them.”

Homicides committed by mentally ill people are the exception, rather than the rule, according to research.

But, Pescara-Kovach said, statistically, these types of shootings will continue until we improve mental health awareness and help.

At a press conference after yesterday’s mass shooting in San Jose, Gov Newsom got up to speak. “There is a sameness to this and that numbness, I think, is something that we are all feeling,” Newsom said. “It begs the damn question, What the hell is going on in the United States of America? What the hell is wrong with us and when are we going to come to grips with this?”

The US still famously has more firearms than people, and no sane person thinks the government will change that anytime soon.  CA has more gun laws than any other states, yet mass shootings keep happening.  (Read about CA’s complete gun law history and efficacy here.)

What we can actually change is how we treat mental illness in this country.  This is the richest country in the world, by far, and we spend about half the money on mental health per capita as our European neighbors, who have far fewer guns, and far fewer mass shootings.

VTA victims identified

The victims’ names are as follows:

Alex Ward Fritch, age 49

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

As the investigation continues we may learn more about the SJ shooter’s motives and past history. What is clear now, is that we need to take the study of mental health in America far more seriously, if we want a chance at preventing these tragedies.

Samuel Cassidy along with the other latest mass shooters in California were never diagnosed, never treated, we don’t even have a clinical label for this type of derangement.  The best available research finds very little clinical evidence that most mass shooters have suffered from serious mental illness-usually taken to mean schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders; bipolar disorder; or major depressive disorder.

Something is clearly wrong mentally with mass shooters, how have we not figured this out yet?

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

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