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California rail yard shooter accused of violence, threats by women

The California rail yard shooter had been accused of having violent outbursts and of threatening violence, according to interviews with women and court documents.

The public transit worker who killed nine people at a rail yard in San Jose, California, had been accused of having violent outbursts and of threatening violence by a former girlfriend and his former wife, according to interviews with the women and court documents.

The shooter was identified as Samuel Cassidy, an employee of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), law enforcement sources said. He shot and killed himself at the scene Wednesday, officials said.

An ex-girlfriend of Cassidy, who asked to remain anonymous, told NBC News the two dated for six months in 2008. They had met on Match.com while he lived in San Jose and she lived in San Mateo. Cassidy had complained they weren’t having enough sex, but after a few months asked her to marry him, she said. She refused, and he didn’t take it well.

“He was so angry, yelling and screaming. And then he started making trouble for me,” she said.

One day not long after the breakup, she said, he stole her brand new car out of her driveway – a 2008 Toyota Camry, for which he had a key. She said she reported it to police but nothing happened until he returned the car a month later, with a broken bumper and other damage.

Tactical law enforcement officers move through the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) light-rail yard where a mass shooting occurred on May 26, 2021 in San Jose, Calif.Philip Pacheco / Getty Images

In March 2009, Cassidy filed for a restraining order against her, online court records show. The ex-girlfriend said he made up the claims. She went on to file for a restraining order against him.

She was shocked but not totally surprised when she heard he was responsible for the shooting.

“He’s not mentally stable,” she said. “When I turned him down, he got so angry. He could not control his emotions.”

In court documents obtained by NBC News, the ex-girlfriend accused Cassidy of sexual assault and major mood swings because of bipolar disorder that became worse with heavy alcohol use.

He became intoxicated, enraged and sexually assaulted her several times during their relationship, she said in the court documents.

Cecilia Nelms, Cassidy's ex-wife, told The Associated Press that the man had a bad temper and would tell her that he wanted to kill people at work.

“I never believed him, and it never happened, until now," she said.

Nelms was teary-eyed and shaken by the news, according to the AP, and said her ex-husband would come home angry about things that happened at work. “He would get more mad” as he talked about it, she said. “He could dwell on things.”

She told the AP there were times she was scared when Cassidy lost his temper and he was someone who could physically hurt others.

Cassidy filed for divorce in 2005 after 10 years of marriage, according to the AP, and the two had not been in contact for 13 years. Nelms said he had been treated for depression.

A history of anger and violence toward women is something experts say is not uncommon to find in the history of mass shooters.

A recent analysis from Bloomberg News found that between 2014 and 2019, almost 60 percent of shootings with four or more deaths involved an aggressor with a history of domestic violence or were an act of domestic violence.