Santa Clara VTA releases information on four incidents Samuel Cassidy was disciplined for prior to shooting

June 11, 2021
The four incidents resulted in disciplinary actions from a written warning to a two-day leave without pay.

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) released 222 pages of Samuel Cassidy’s personnel file documenting leave requests, a handful of disciplinary actions and hiring and promotion letters.

The agency says it is “examining Cassidy’s personnel file and related documents in an attempt to determine whether his personnel history can shed any light on this unimaginable attack.”

Santa Clara VTA says it will continue reviewing a large volume of documents concerning Cassidy, who had been employed at the agency since January 2001.

“So far, there is no indication of records in Cassidy’s VTA personnel file of any formal discipline for threatening behavior or violence during his 20-year career at VTA,” the authority included in a statement.

Cassidy was the lone gunman who killed nine of his coworkers at Guadalupe Yard on May 26 before killing himself in an attack that the Santa Clara County Sheriff called a planned event intended “to take as many lives as he possibly could had Sheriff’s Deputies not made entry to stop his rampage.”

The documents released June 10 indicate Cassidy had taken extended leave at least two times, including between Aug. 10, 2016, and Sept. 1, 2016 for surgery. The Wall Street Journal reported Cassidy had been detained by Customs and Border Control on Aug. 8, 2016, as he re-entered the U.S. from a trip to the Philippines and was found with terrorism literature, as well as a notebook with complaints about Santa Clara VTA. However, that information never reached Santa Clara VTA.

“Throughout this initial search, no documentation or history of complaints of Cassidy making racist or threatening remarks towards his colleagues has surfaced. Furthermore, no records have been located about information regarding Cassidy being provided by any federal agency (including the Department of Homeland Security) at any time,” said Santa Clara VTA.

Four incidents involving Cassidy occurred between July 2019 and November 2020 were elevated to management for further action with disciplinary actions ranging from a verbal warning to a two-day suspension without pay.

The two-day suspension occurred following a July 2019 incident for insubordination in which Cassidy refused to follow company policy in signing out a two-way radio that was necessary for his job.

The most recent incidents occurred in October and November 2020. In October, Cassidy refused mandatory recertification for CPR citing concerns surrounding COVID-19 and the course being taught indoors. Santa Clara VTA said “a number of reasonable accommodations were provided” including offers of taking the course in a room where he was the only occupant, but Cassidy did not take the course. One email exchange concerning the CPR recertification stated “he is a great worker,” although the email does not refer to Cassidy by name.

In November 2020, Cassidy left work without permission following trouble with clocking in for his work shift. He used a VTA two-way radio for personal communication, rather than operational matters, which is against Santa Clara VTA policy.

However, one incident on Jan. 29, 2020, may have offered a glimpse at what Cassidy’s coworkers thought of him, or perhaps, feared in him. A verbal altercation occurred concerning vacation sign-up that Cassidy claimed he had not been made aware of. As a female coworker was “setting up for the bid” in a breakroom, Cassidy began “shouting and pointing at her.” The incident occurred in front of other employees and union representatives. The ATU representatives intervened to de-escalate the situation. In an email explaining the incident written by an unknown employee, the female coworker reported a discussion with a third employee who was not named but present during the altercation as saying “he scares me. If someone was to go postal, it’d be him.”

Based on Cassidy’s history prior to January 2020, it was determined “he does not have anything in his disciplinary history that would seem to be of any concern at this point to investigate further.” A recommendation was made to review two policies concerning standards of conduct and harassment with Cassidy following the incident.

Santa Clara VTA says it is committed to providing additional documents on Cassidy’s history with the authority, but noted it has an “obligation to protect the confidentiality of employees, vendors and other people who are not involved in this incident in any way.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.