A man who killed seven innocents in Odessa, Texas, over the weekend was barred from legally obtaining a firearm because he was deemed mentally unfit, law enforcement officials revealed to The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
The shooter, who will not be named per Daily Wire policy, was denied a weapon in 2014 after failing a background check in Texas. He then bypassed the gun control measure and obtained a gun illegally sometime before his shooting rampage, though it is unclear how exactly it was obtained.
“The gunman had tried to buy a gun in January 2014 but failed because a nationwide criminal background check system flagged the mental health determination by a local court and prevented the purchase, according to the officials,” the report said, noting that “[f]ederal law bars individuals who have been found to be mentally unfit from purchasing or owning guns. Records of the gunman’s mental health ruling would have been submitted to an FBI database (the National Instant Criminal Background Check System) used to check the backgrounds of prospective gun buyers.”
It remains unclear which illegal route the shooter went to obtain the firearm he used to shoot over two dozen people, including a 17-month-old baby.
According to the Journal, the shooter was struggling with mental health issues. Mere hours before his rampage, the man called into 911 and the FBI tip line to rant about being fired from his job and the “atrocities” he had suffered; authorities claim no threats were made.
As noted by the outlet, those who’ve been committed to a mental institution or deemed “adjudicated as a mental defective” are federally prohibited from owning a firearm. “It also makes it illegal to sell a weapon to such a person who the seller knows has been prohibited,” the Journal reports. “The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been working on tracing the history of the rifle that [the shooter] used in the attack and how he obtained it.”
During the shooting rampage on Saturday, the gunman abandoned his gold Honda to hijack a mail truck, where he continued to open fire. “The suspect was traveling toward a movie theater called Cinergy, at which point he was engaged by law enforcement. A shootout followed, and the suspect was killed,” The Daily Wire reported.
Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) said he and his wife were “heartbroken” over the “senseless and cowardly attack” and promised justice for the victims’ families in a statement following the carnage.
“The First Lady and I are heartbroken over this senseless and cowardly attack, and we offer our unwavering support to the victims, their families, and all the people of Midland and Odessa,” the statement said. “The state of Texas and the Department of Public Safety are working closely with local law enforcement to provide resources as needed and deliver justice for this heinous attack. I thank the first responders who have acted swiftly and admirably under pressure, and I want to remind all Texans that we will not allow the Lone Star State to be overrun by hatred and violence. We will unite, as Texans always do, to respond to this tragedy.”