Death toll in Texas shooting rises to seven

The attacker, who has not yet been publicly identified by the police, also wounded 22 people.

    Among the wounded was a 17-month-old girl who was shot in the face, officials said [Callaghan O'Hare/Reuters]
    Among the wounded was a 17-month-old girl who was shot in the face, officials said [Callaghan O'Hare/Reuters]

    Authorities in the United States said on Sunday they still could not explain why a man with an AR-style weapon opened fire during a routine traffic stop in west Texas to begin a terrifying rampage that killed seven people and ended with officers gunning him down outside a movie theatre.

    The attacker, who has not yet been publicly identified by Texas police, also wounded 22 people in Odessa-Midland area, the second mass shooting to rock the US state in less than a month.

    Those killed were aged 15 to 57, Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said on Sunday. "My heart aches for them all," he said at a news conference.

    Among the wounded was a 17-month-old girl, who was shot in the face, according to officials.

    According to authorities, the man, a white male in his 30s, was stopped for failing to signal a left turn. Before his vehicle came to a complete stop, he "pointed a rifle towards the rear window of his car and fired several shots" at the patrol car stopping him. 

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    The gunshots struck one of two troopers inside the patrol car, after which the gunman fled and continued shooting.

    He then hijacked a mail carrier truck and fired at random as he drove in the area of Odessa and Midland, two cities in the heart of Texas oil country and more than 483km west of Dallas.

    Gerke did not provide details of the chase, but the spot where the suspect was killed is more than 16km from where state troopers originally pulled over the gunman.

    "There are no definitive answers as to motive or reasons at this point, but we are fairly certain that the subject did act alone," Gerke said.

    Among the 22 injured were three police officers, with one of them in serious but stable condition.

    'A very sick person'

    Following the shooting, critics of the US gun policy called for more stringent laws regarding the procurement of weapons. 

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    President Donald Trump called the Odessa attacker "a very sick person", but said background checks on gun buyers would not have prevented recent incidents of gun violence.

    Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Trump said he would work with Democrats and Republicans on gun legislation when Congress returns this month.

    "I think you're going to see some interesting things coming along," Trump said without providing further detail.

    Members of the House Judiciary Committee are expected to return from their summer recess this week to discuss new gun control legislation. 

    Saturday's shooting came just weeks after a white supremacist killed 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. 

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies