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Odessa, Texas (CNN) - A man who was arrested by soldiers from Texas shot them with a rifle and drove away quickly, which triggered a terrifying uproar that ended with a shooting and four dead victims and 21 wounded, police said.
After he opened fire during a traffic stop this Saturday in Midland, the attacker drove down the streets and the highway, firing random bullets at residents and motorists.
He then hijacked a postal truck and abandoned his golden Honda, shooting people as he headed to Odessa about 20 kilometers away. There, the police confronted him in the parking lot of a cinema and killed him in a shooting.
Victims injured on Saturday included a 17-month-old girl and three law enforcement officials, hospital officials and police said.
- Authorities say they have thwarted three mass shootings in the United States
It is not clear why the police arrested the unidentified attacker or what his motive was. Odessa police chief Michael Gerke described him as a white man in his 30s, but refused to provide additional information.
The attack during the busy Labor Day weekend put people nervous in a state where an armed man killed 22 less than a month ago in a Walmart in El Paso, about 485 kilometers west of Odessa.
He grabbed his rifle and aimed at the agents
The chaotic afternoon began at 3:13 pm local time.
Two soldiers from the Texas Department of Public Safety arrested a lone driver during a traffic stop on Interstate 20 westbound in Midland, authorities said.
Before the vehicle stopped completely, the man grabbed a rifle, aimed at his rear window and fired at the soldiers' patrol unit, injuring one of them, said Lt. Elizabeth Carter of the Department of Public Security.
Texas police and sheriff's agents surround an area behind the Cinergy Theater in Odessa, following reports of shootings on Saturday.
The attacker then drove west, towards Odessa, and continued firing through the city and around shopping centers, the police chief said.
He then abandoned his vehicle, stole a mail truck and shot more people as he headed towards the Cinergy cinema, where he exchanged shots with agents in the parking lot.
At first, authorities suggested there were two shooters because they thought the man in the mail truck was different from the Honda, police said.
The victims included a 17-month-old girl
Of the three law enforcement officers injured, one was part of the Department of Public Safety and the other two of the police departments of Midland and Odessa. The first is in serious condition the condition of the other two is stable.
Police have not disclosed details about the dead or injured and the United States Postal Service declined to comment on the condition of the mailman whose truck was stolen. The Ector County School District in Odessa said one of his students was among those killed.
The 17-month-old baby was taken by plane to the Lubbock University Medical Center, where she was in satisfactory condition, hospital officials said.
Police and sheriff's agents surround the area behind the Cinergy cinema in Odessa, Texas.
A witness describes the shooting with the agents
Alex Woods drove to the cinema about five minutes before the shooting and saw several police vehicles with flashing lights.
"There were only police everywhere and there were a lot of people behind the theater in the field walking and the next thing you know is that the gunshots exploded," he said. "I hear a bang, so I turn the camera to where the theater is and I only see a lot of shots."
Woods said he saw an agent walk to the mail van and shoot him, describing the incident as surreal.
"I think it was when they killed the shooter." "It all happened so fast".
Mike Barrett said his friend was shot and was hospitalized with injuries.
"He was on his way home, he and his wife ... they shot him," Barrett said. "He went through the car door and shot him right in the side ... his wife was covered in blood."
Texas gun laws will take effect today
The shooting occurred hours before a series of firearms laws went into effect in Texas, where four of the 10 deadliest mass shootings occurred in the modern history of the United States.
The new measures will make arms restrictions more flexible and will allow weapons on school grounds, apartments and places of worship.
After the shooting on Saturday, Democratic presidential candidates issued statements calling for a weapons reform.
"Our hearts are with Midland, Odessa and everyone in West Texas who have to endure this again ... We have to put an end to this epidemic," tweeted Beto O'Rourke, a Texas native.
Julian Castro, another Democratic presidential candidate, said the shootings will continue if no action is taken. “We have to be more honest with ourselves. This is going to happen again. And again, ”he tweeted.
Vice President Mike Pence said he and President Donald Trump are determined to work with Congress "to address and address this scourge of mass atrocities in our country."
Ralph Ellis of CNN contributed to this report.
Texas U.S. shootings Mass shootings