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Local 265-San Jose, CA, Slams VTA’s So Called “Independent” Investigation into Tragic May 2021 Mass Shooting as Sham, Insufficient, and Unacceptable

Calling the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) independent investigation into the tragic 2021 mass shooting, that took the lives of 10 of our Local 265-San Jose, CA brothers, unacceptable, insufficient, and designed to get the agency “off the hook,” the ATU and our Local 265 slammed the report and offered real solutions to prevent future violence.


False Narrative

“The VTA should be ashamed of this ‘so called’ independent investigation with a completely false narrative that lets the agency off scot-free in the face of ongoing litigation. Not only does the report fail to provide a full analysis of the circumstances and employee discontent that led to this preventable tragedy, but it is also silent on any serious recommendations for preventing such tragedies in the future,” said Local 265 President/Business Agent John Courtney. “While our Union has worked to ensure much needed funding for mental health resources and to address the shortfalls in VTA’s employee assistance, safety, and violence prevention programs, the VTA workplace is still far from perfect, and our members are still not fully protected.”

In December 2022, the VTA touted what they called their “independent investigation” into the mass shooting, claiming the VTA had no prior knowledge or warning that employee Samuel Cassidy was planning a mass shooting. 


Avoiding Accountability

In a letter sent by ATU International President John Costa and Courtney, to the VTA Board of Directors, among others, the ATU outlined numerous reasons the independent investigative report was a transparent effort by the agency to avoid any accountability or culpability for the tragic shooting.   

The ATU points to the narrow scope of the VTA’s report with no “root cause” analysis, criminal liability evaluation, or recommendations for preventing such events in the future. It also points out the report’s failure to meet even the minimal requirements for an “investigation” as defined by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which looks at “determining the causal and contributing factors of an accident, incident, or hazard for the purpose of preventing recurrence and mitigating risk.”


Red Flags

The letter goes on to outline the missed signals or behavioral “red flags” the shooter exhibited, including signs of discontent, distrust, and “hatred” for the VTA and certain employees over a long period of time and repeated complaints by his co-workers that the employee “could go postal.” In fact, critical witnesses were not even contacted for the report. Instead, co-workers’ concerns about potential violence were discounted, and Cassidy’s immediate supervisors took limited or no action to address the shooter’s increasingly erratic behavior.

The ATU is also demanding that the FTA issue a set of specific standard requirements for effective Violence Prevention Plans and that the federal agency make additional funding available to the agencies to provide for the effective and lasting implementation of these vital measures.