Tag Archives: workplace.

Help! How Do I Make My Workplace More Diverse?

Dear OOO,

I’m a (white, male) hiring manager at a not-very-diverse company. I would like to help make us more diverse, but we only seem to get people who look like us applying for jobs, and I have no idea how to get people who don’t look like us to apply. How can I get better at hiring so we diversify our staff?

–Mark

I yell a lot about the still-woeful lack of diversity in my industry on the internet, which means I get variations of this question all the time from friends and coworkers and acquaintances and even complete strangers. As much as I love being considered an expert on anything and everything, though, this particular line of inquiry is always a little confusing to me. I don’t know if your field is like this, Mark, but white people in mine are sometimes treated (by other white people) as if they’ve unlocked some mystical secret when they simply … hire Black and brown people.

I bristle a bit when people tell me that hiring people from a diverse range of backgrounds is difficult, because it’s not; it just necessitates effort. When white people say that hiring more Black and brown people for your overwhelmingly white office is hard, the subtext is that it is harder to find qualified Black and brown people than it is white ones. But that’s just patently false. There are plenty of qualified non-white candidates for literally any job, and the only way to end up interviewing only white ones is if you are unwilling to put in the work to get a more diverse pool.

I don’t mean to pick on you, Mark. I fully believe that you genuinely desire to make your company better by making it more diverse, and I promise I will give you concrete advice for doing so. But I do think it’s important to understand the systemic issues at play before getting into the nitty-gritty how-to, because hiring diversity is a field that needs a lot more critical thinking, and you can’t get that from a step-by-step guide. I’d encourage you first to read widely about workplace diversity both in your industry and more generally, and discuss what you learn with your colleagues.

OK then, here’s the advice you actually came for. I’d start by trying to identify the things that might be discouraging people who don’t look like you from applying. At the very least, I’d wager, folks are reluctant to send their résumés because they are well aware that you don’t usually employ people who look like them. Who can blame them? Talk to your current employees of color (you do have some, right?) about how the company could improve their work lives, and make the changes they ask for. (Reassure them that it’s not a trick question, but realize they may not tell you anything, not because you’re genuinely doing a great job but because research shows people of color are actually penalized for advocating diversity at work.) Look at your company’s retention rates for different groups of employees, and if they vary according to race or ethnicity or gender, think critically about why. Reflect on the differences between diversity, equity, and inclusion and figure out how to create an inclusive workplace. Then, when you do identify great candidates (more on that below), you can tell them about all the positive steps you’ve taken to fix your own mistakes.

Once you have taken all these steps, and not a second before, focus on active recruiting rather than just filtering through résumés that find their way to you. While publicly posting job openings is an important step toward a diverse workforce, it is not remotely sufficient. You need to use the same networking tools that historically have kept companies overwhelmingly white and male to diversify them. That means asking all your contacts who they recommend. (One big caveat: Do not ask prominent people of color in your field for their recommendations unless you already know them well; you have not earned the benefit of their knowledge, and making people feel put upon absolutely will not help.) It also means scouring LinkedIn, Twitter, message boards, or other places in your field where people gather for prospects. Going to professional conferences and other events in your field can help too, but it is not a replacement for doing this more painstaking work.

Author: Megan Greenwell
This post originally appeared on Business Latest

Turn Tech to Your Advantage in the New Hybrid Workplace

When working with colleagues from a remote setting, a text or an email is probably fine for quick conversations, like setting up a meeting. But for more serious discussions, a phone or video call is probably better.

Video calls can get tedious, so they should be used sparingly and mainly when there is a clear purpose for video, Dr. Simon-Thomas said. That could be a meeting with visual aids in a presentation. Or a first-time introduction to a colleague, when it’s nice to see a face.

Whether in the office or at home, if you’re going to write to your colleagues, be thoughtful, Dr. Simon-Thomas added. Avoid terse notes, and add nuance and context to your message. Whenever possible, show curiosity when discussing solutions to problems to avoid coming off as a harsh critic.

“We don’t have the intonation, the facial expression and the postural cues that we normally rely on,” she said. “The most mundane response can mean a universe of things to a person that receives it.”

Regardless of our rank in an organization, our time is precious. When our work is interrupted by a digital distraction like a message, it takes 23 minutes on average to return to the original task, according to one study. So in a hybrid work situation, respecting boundaries will be crucial, said Tiffany Shlain, a documentary maker who wrote “24/6,” a book about the importance of unplugging from tech.

There are powerful tools, like scheduling emails and setting a status message, that you can use to let others know you’re busy and to set boundaries.

Let’s say that you work a 9-to-5 job and that at 7 p.m. you have an idea to share with a colleague, so you jot it down in an email. If you shoot off the email, two things happen. One, you have removed your own boundary by letting others know that you work during supper time. Two, you have potentially interrupted a colleague during his or her downtime.

Author: Brian X. Chen
This post originally appeared on NYT > Technology > Personal Tech

Covid Brings Automation to the Workplace, Killing Some Jobs

Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, a fast-food chain in Ohio, hardly seems an obvious venue for cutting-edge artificial intelligence. But the company’s drive-thrus are showcasing technology that reveals how the Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating the creep of automation into some workplaces.

Unable to find enough workers, Chuck Cooper, CEO of Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, installed an automated voice system in many locations to take orders. The system, developed by Intel and Hi Auto, a voice recognition firm, never fails to upsell customers on fries or a drink, which Cooper says has boosted sales. At outlets with the voice system, there’s no longer a need for a person to take orders at the drive-thru window. “It also never calls in sick,” Cooper says.

Cooper says he thinks enhanced unemployment checks have kept some potential workers away, but he says concerns about exposure to Covid and difficulty getting child care because of the pandemic may also be factors. Still, he says, “There’s no way we’re going back.”

Other employers, too, are deploying automation in place of workers during the pandemic. Some restaurants and supermarkets say they cannot find enough new workers to open new locations. Many businesses are keen to rehire workers as quickly as they can, but economists say the technology will remain, replacing employees in some cases.

History suggests “automation takes place faster during recessions and sticks thereafter,” says Daron Acemoglu, an economist at MIT. “It should be doubly true today.” Acemoglu says companies are adopting more automation partly due to staff shortages but also because it can help with new safety measures, and to improve efficiency.

That’s true of many meat processors, which adopted technology at the start of the pandemic to enable social distancing between workers, says Jonathan Van Wyck, a partner at Boston Consulting Group. Now a labor shortage that is driving up wages is prompting one processor he works with to deploy more machines. It recently installed a camera system that uses AI algorithms to look for foreign objects, such as a stray glove in freshly cut meat; the system will replace at least one worker. “A lot of companies start with an automation process and realize there are lots of opportunities in the digital space that aren’t robotics but can move the needle on labor,” he says.

David Autor, another MIT economist who studies computerization and its impact on the labor market, believes Covid has accelerated changes that almost surely would eventually have occurred. Now they’ll no longer be considered something for “the future,” he says.

Robots get a lot of hype, but they are not yet clever enough to take over from humans in food-processing plants, kitchens, or restaurants. Still, large fast-food chains such as McDonald’s were investing in tools such as ordering kiosks and new machines to automate more aspects of cooking before the pandemic.

Hudson Riehle, senior vice president for the National Restaurant Association, says Covid undoubtedly accelerated this trend. He says many restaurants are using technology to reshuffle workers, part of a long-term move toward more use of automation.

“During the course of the pandemic more operators stepped up their investments in technology” that automates specific tasks, Riehle says. “The top one is ordering and payment.”

A massive shift to delivery and virtual kitchens triggered by the pandemic may mean that some restaurants and some customers will be more willing to use technology that once seemed unfamiliar. Using an app to order at a restaurant table could mean that, eventually, fewer servers will be needed.

Other industries, including retail and hotels, have also been turned upside down by the pandemic. But tracking the use of AI across the economy is difficult, because the technology cannot simply step in for workers in most cases, and because different jobs, in different industries, tend to be automatable in different ways.

Sam Ransbotham, a professor at Boston College, has been studying corporate adoption of AI during the pandemic. In a report to be released later this year, Ransbotham says he and colleagues found widespread adoption of technology in response to the pandemic. Typically, he says, this involves automating specific tasks rather than the wholesale replacement of workers.

Author: Will Knight
This post originally appeared on Business Latest

State pension warning as your sum may be impacted if you’ve been in a workplace pension

State Pension payments are issued to eligible Britons who have reached a certain age, often after leaving the workforce. Generally, the sum is based on a person’s National Insurance contributions which are built up throughout their lifetime. Those in receipt of the state pension will receive a unique starting amount which is based on the old state pension rules being taken into account for the newer system.

Those in these schemes may have paid lower National Insurance contributions when paying into one of these pensions.

This is a process known as being “contracted out” of the Additional State Pension.

It is a process which is likely to have affected most people who have been in work, so it is worth checking. 

Changes to contracting out took place on April 6, 2016, upon the introduction of the new state pension.

This can be done by looking back through old payslips, with a particular focus on one’s National Insurance.

The Government has explained individuals were contracted out if the National Insurance contributions line has the letter ‘D’ or ’N’ next to it.

Individuals were not contracted out if the same line has the letter A next to it.

Those with none of these letters should check with their employer or pension provider to determine their circumstances.

People who find they were contracted out will have paid National Insurance at a lower rate.

Contracted out individuals are more likely to have worked in the public sector, for example, the NHS, the civil service, policing or teaching.

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Finance Feed

San Jose Gunman Detested Workplace Long Before Rampage, Police Say

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The first reports of gunfire at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail yard near downtown San Jose, Calif., came in at 6:34 a.m. on Wednesday, about half an hour into a morning shift.

Inside the complex, terrified employees flooded into a parking lot. The gunman might be on the third floor, a dispatcher told San Jose firefighters, though it was not clear from the 911 calls coming in which building he was in. Shots kept ringing out. Send more ambulances, the dispatcher said.

Three minutes later, another call came in. Eight miles from the rail yard, heavy smoke billowed from a single-story home in a suburban neighborhood. Firefighters headed out to combat the flames.

Only later would the authorities realize that the shooting and the fire were related: The gunman, identified by officials as a 57-year-old man named Samuel Cassidy, who had worked in maintenance at the transportation authority for many years, lived in the burning house.

He might have set off a device to start the blaze at the same time that he opened fire on his co-workers, armed with three semiautomatic handguns and 32 high-capacity magazines, each holding 12 rounds, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office said on Thursday. Deputy Cian Jackson, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said a witness reported that the gunman told someone at the scene that he was not going to hurt the person, suggesting that he might have selected his victims.

Nine men, ages 29 to 63, died. Mr. Cassidy killed himself, the authorities said.

Indications that Mr. Cassidy held anger toward his workplace had been discovered by federal officials years earlier, after Customs and Border Protection stopped him as he returned from a trip to the Philippines in 2016. When officers searched his bags, they found books about terrorism, manifestoes and a notebook detailing how he detested the transportation authority, known as the V.T.A., according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the contents of an internal message sent around the agency after the shooting.

The Homeland Security Department, which includes Customs and Border Protection, declined to comment, citing an investigation into the shooting in San Jose. The 2016 incident was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.

“Based on recent developments in the investigation we can say that the suspect has been a highly disgruntled V.T.A. employee for many years, which may have contributed to why he targeted V.T.A. employees,” Deputy Russell Davis of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Sheriff Laurie Smith of Santa Clara County described the gunman’s killings as deliberate, though it was unclear whether he chose his victims. None of the people who were shot survived. The sheriff suggested that the carnage, spread out over two buildings, could have been worse if deputies, whose headquarters is next door to the rail yard, had not arrived quickly.

Sheriff Smith said in an interview that the gunman turned to a union representative who was at the site for an impromptu visit and said something like “I’m not going to shoot you” immediately before he began killing his colleagues.

“He was very deliberate, very fast,” she said. “He knew where employees would be.”

The Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office identified the victims as Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Alex Ward Fritch, 49; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; and Lars Kepler Lane, 63.

They were part of a close-knit group of workers who helped keep the transit agency’s buses and light rail trains moving. Several were fathers, and they included immigrants from the Philippines, India and Iran.

Credit…Sarah Hernandez, via Associated Press

Mr. Balleza, the father of a 2-year-old son, had worked at the V.T.A. since 2014. He had been excited to go fishing with his son one day, his wife said. Mr. Singh enjoyed playing volleyball and had moved to the United States from India in 2005. Mr. Megia had moved to the United States from the Philippines when he was a toddler and loved to take his two sons, daughter and stepson wakeboarding, his father said. They had planned to leave for a trip to Disneyland on Thursday.

Credit…Megan Staker

“We don’t know the relationships or the correlations between the victims and the shooter,” said Arturo E. Aguilar, the chairman of the California Conference Board of the Amalgamated Transit Union, a labor group that represented the workers who died. The people who died worked in various departments, he added in an interview on the lawn outside the union’s San Jose office on Thursday.

Credit…Leonard Megia

As the shooting began, Mr. Singh, who would become one of the victims, alerted colleagues: At 6:36 a.m., he called Sukhvir Singh, another employee, with an urgent warning. “Hey! There’s an active shooter,” Sukhvir Singh recalled Taptejdeep Singh saying. “Get out.”

Sukhvir Singh, who specializes in repairing and maintaining the light-rail trains that run through San Jose and is not related to Taptejdeep Singh, fled with crew members to a windowless building that houses antique railroad vehicles. They waited there until it was over.

Credit…Singh Family

“He is the hero for everyone,” said Sukhvir Singh, who described Taptejdeep Singh as unfailingly gracious and helpful.

He said Mr. Cassidy barely knew Taptejdeep Singh, who worked in a different department as a light-rail operator, and in a different building. “They didn’t have any connection at all,” he said.

For a time, Sukhvir Singh worked in the same building as Mr. Cassidy. He would pass him in the halls and say hello, he recalled, and Mr. Cassidy might acknowledge him with a grunt. “He didn’t really communicate with other people,” Sukhvir Singh said. “He was in his own world.”

In Santa Cruz, Calif., Mr. Cassidy’s ex-wife, Cecilia Nelms, 64, said on Thursday that he was depressed and angry throughout their 10-year marriage. They had not spoken in 13 years, she said.

He proposed three months after they met at a nightclub in Cupertino, Calif., when Mr. Cassidy worked as a mechanic for a Mazda dealership. He loved cars and pets and kept several boa constrictors in addition to the couple’s two dogs. He later began working for the V.T.A.

Over the years, Ms. Nelms said, Mr. Cassidy’s personality changed, and he grew meaner, angrier and more impatient. He struggled with depression and took medication for it. He complained about his co-workers at the V.T.A., grumbling that some were lazy or had easier jobs than he did.

Occasionally, Ms. Nelms said, Mr. Cassidy would say, “I wish I could kill them.” She said she did not think he was serious.

The couple, who had no children, broke up in 2004 and divorced.

Mr. Cassidy lived in a one-story home with white trim and a patchy lawn in the Evergreen neighborhood in a suburban corner of southeastern San Jose. After the shooting, the neighborhood was swarmed with fire and police vehicles, federal agents and a boxy blue truck from the San Jose bomb squad. Men with gas masks and oxygen tanks stood amid the flashing lights in the cul-de-sacs of what they all described as a quiet suburban neighborhood that is home largely to Vietnamese and Filipino immigrants.

Doug Suh, who lives across the street, said Mr. Cassidy lived alone and rarely had visitors.

“I was afraid of him,” Mr. Suh said. “My wife was scared of him, too.”

Mr. Suh recalled Mr. Cassidy once lashing out at him when Mr. Suh turned his car around in Mr. Cassidy’s driveway. “He yelled, ‘Do not come onto my driveway.’”

On Wednesday after the shooting, Mr. Suh scanned through his security camera footage. The camera captured Mr. Cassidy at 5:40 a.m. — less than 45 minutes before he opened fire at the rail yard — loading his white pickup truck with a black bag. He was wearing a uniform with reflective stripes.

“What about all these families that lost sons and fathers?” Anthony Nguyen asked in an interview in his driveway. “I’m so sorry for them. It’s not right. All these broken hearts.”

Thomas Fuller reported from San Jose, and Kellen Browning from San Jose and Santa Cruz, Calif. Reporting was contributed by Shawn Hubler in Sacramento and Eileen Sullivan in Washington. Also contributing reporting were Maria Cramer, Adeel Hassan, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Frances Robles, Daniel Victor and Neil Vigdor. Susan C. Beachy and Kitty Bennett contributed research.

Author: Thomas Fuller, Kellen Browning, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Patricia Mazzei
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Border officials once found writing by the gunman about how he hated his workplace.

Nine co-workers were fatally shot at a San Jose rail yard on Wednesday.
Credit…Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

The municipal transit worker who the police say shot and killed nine of his colleagues at a rail yard in San Jose was stopped by border officials in 2016, during which they searched his bags and found writings about how he hated the agency he worked for, according to an official who described a message that was circulated within the Homeland Security Department after Wednesday’s shooting.

The gunman, who the authorities said killed himself and was identified as Samuel James Cassidy, 57, was stopped by Customs and Border Protection officials in August 2016 as he returned from a trip to the Philippines, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

In addition to the notebook with writings about how he hated the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, where he worked, the officials also found books about terrorism and manifestoes, the official said.

The police in California said on Thursday that they were still trying to understand what led to the shooting, but that they had discovered more firepower at the scene than they had initially reported.

Three semiautomatic handguns were found at the scene, as were 32 high-capacity magazines which each held a dozen nine-millimeter rounds, said Deputy Cian Jackson, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. He said at least one witness had reported that the gunman told someone at the scene that he was not going to hurt them, suggesting that he may have selected his victims.

Detectives were continuing to interview witnesses on Thursday to try to understand what had happened, though a statement from the sheriff’s office said the gunman had been “a highly disgruntled V.T.A. employee for many years.”

“The general vibe we get is that he didn’t like anybody and nobody really liked him,” Deputy Jackson said in an interview. He added that the police had feared that there was an explosive device in the gunman’s locker at work, but that none was discovered.

He declined to comment on the report of the 2016 stop by border officials, which was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal. The Homeland Security Department, which includes Customs and Border Protection, also declined to comment on the stop and did not respond to a question about whether the border agency had shared information about it at the time.

The gunman had carried out the rampage early on Wednesday morning at the same time that his house was erupting in flames more than eight miles away.

Sheriff Laurie Smith told reporters that based on photographs of at least two of the guns, they appeared to be legal to buy in California, though she did not say whether Mr. Cassidy had purchased them legally. Californians voted in 2016 to ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, as the gunman’s did, but it was blocked from going into effect by a judge after a lawsuit by the National Rifle Association. A legal battle over the law is ongoing.

Sheriff Smith said the gunman had been “very deliberate” in killing his colleagues at the transit agency near downtown San Jose, and that he had killed himself as deputies rushed into the rail yard from their headquarters next door.

Sheriff Smith said on NBC’s “Today” show that the fire at Mr. Cassidy’s house was first reported three minutes after someone had called 911 to report gunfire at the rail yard, suggesting that he may have set off “some kind of device” to start the blaze as he opened fire. She said investigators had found “explosive materials” at the suspect’s home.

Credit…Valley Transportation Authority, via Associated Press

The phone call came at 6:36 a.m. and lasted for 44 seconds. Sukhvir Singh, a mechanic at the rail yard where nine of his colleagues were killed, says the call on Wednesday morning was the difference between life and death for him and a half dozen co-workers.

On the line was a colleague, Taptejdeep Singh, with an urgent warning.

“He was talking quite fast,” Sukhvir Singh said. “He said, ‘Hey! There’s an active shooter. Get out.’”

Sukhvir Singh, who specializes in repairing and maintaining the light-rail trains that run through San Jose, fled with his crew members to a windowless building that houses antique rolling stock. There they waited until sheriff’s deputies arrived.

The man who made the call was killed by the gunman.

Credit…Singh Family

Sukhvir Singh said he was told that his body was discovered on a staircase.

Few employees at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, the agency where the shooting took place, have told their stories of survival. Outside a union hall on Thursday, rank-and-file members said they had been told they would be fired if they spoke to reporters.

Sukhvir Singh said he wanted to speak out as a tribute to Taptejdeep Singh, whom he described as an unfailingly gracious and helpful colleague. The two men are not related.

“There are still people out there who want to help others more than themselves,” he said. “He is the hero for everyone.”

The killing of Taptejdeep Singh, he said, also underlined the senselessness of the shooting.

He said the gunman, identified as Samuel Cassidy, barely knew Taptejdeep Singh. They worked in different departments. Mr. Cassidy worked in Building B, which handles the maintenance of electrical substations. Taptejdeep Singh was a light-rail operator who when he was not driving trains was in Building A, where trains were serviced.

“They didn’t have any connection at all,” he said.

For a time Sukhvir Singh worked in the same building as Mr. Cassidy. He would pass him in the halls and say hello. At best Mr. Cassidy would acknowledge him with a grunt, he said.

“He didn’t really communicate with other people,” he said. “He was in his own world.”

Sarabjit Singh, second from right, mourns for his son Taptejdeep Singh, a victim in the shooting on Wednesday.
Credit…Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

Nine employees of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority were killed in a shooting at the system’s rail yard in San Jose on Wednesday.

The victims of the shooting were identified by the Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office as Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40; Alex Ward Fritch, 49; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; and Lars Kepler Lane, 63.

Here is what we know about some of their lives.

Credit…Heather Balleza

Adrian Balleza was described by his wife, Heather Balleza, as a humble and caring individual who was loved by many people. Now, she wrote over a messaging platform on Thursday morning, his family and friends are heartbroken. Mr. Balleza’s 2-year-old son will have to spend his years without a father. “It still doesn’t feel real,” she wrote.

Mr. Balleza started working at the V.T.A. in 2014 as a bus operator trainee, later becoming a maintenance worker and light rail operator, the authority said.

Mr. Balleza could not wait until his son was old enough for them to go fishing together, Ms. Balleza said. She was grief-stricken that her husband would not be able to watch his son grow up. And her own world is no longer whole, she said.

“The world needs more people like my husband, not one less,” she said. “He was my night and day. The best father and husband … my forever angel.”

Naunihal Singh, the superintendent of light rail transportation for V.T.A., was Mr. Balleza’s supervisor. He described Mr. Balleza as a “gem of a person” and a “very kindhearted” man who was always volunteering to help organize fun activities for co-workers.

“Words are not enough to justify the pain we’re all going through,” Mr. Singh told reporters on Thursday. “I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m at a loss for words.”

Ed Lane expressed anguish on Wednesday night over the death of his brother Lars Lane, who worked as a journeyman lineman for the V.T.A., according to his LinkedIn profile.

“My brother was murdered today,” Mr. Lane said in an email. “Not by a gun but by a man that could have been helped.”

Mr. Lane spent much of the day waiting to find out if his brother, who local media outlets reported was a husband and a father, was among the victims. He sharply criticized the way the notification process was handled, in addition to the renewed call for tougher gun control laws in the aftermath of another mass shooting.

“I’m tired of the gun control propaganda,” he said. “Politicians and law enforcement patting themselves on the back leaving my family in the dark for 12 hours. The family assistance was absolutely a front of incompetence.”

Jose Dejesus Hernandez III could build and fix anything, said his ex-wife, Sarah Raelyn. They were married for more than 10 years until 2020, and Mr. Hernandez was the most intelligent and sweetest man she had ever known, she said.

Once he even sold all of his musical equipment to buy her a chihuahua named Lylia.

Mr. Hernandez had worked at the V.T.A. since 2012, starting as a transit mechanic, and later becoming an electro-mechanic and a substation mechanic.

He played guitar, built motorcycles and “loved the Lord,” Ms. Raelyn said over a messaging platform. Mr. Hernandez also acted as an older brother and a mentor to Ms. Raelyn’s brother.

“My heart will never fully heal from this tragedy,” she said. “This world lost an amazing man yesterday, but heaven gained one.”

Paul Delacruz Megia immigrated to the United States from the Philippines when he was a toddler, according to his father, Leonard Megia. He had two sons, a daughter and a stepson, and he loved them deeply, his father said.

They liked to take a boat out and go wakeboarding during the summer, his father said, and in the winter, snowboarding was their favorite activity.

Mr. Megia had planned a trip to Disneyland with his children. They were scheduled to leave on Thursday.

Credit…Leonard Megia

“He was a wonderful dad,” his father said. “He’s my son and my best friend.”

Mr. Megia and his father lived in the same home together near Tracy, Calif., along with his three children. The father and son were very close — they enjoyed fishing and spending time in the snow together during the winter. Mr. Megia was always smiling, his father said, and constantly had a positive demeanor.

The V.T.A. said Mr. Megia had been employed there for 20 years, working his way up from bus operator trainee to superintendent-service management. Mr. Megia left home every morning at 4:30 a.m. to get to work on time, but made sure to call his children every single morning to check in on them before they started school.

“He’s a very loving dad who cared a lot about his children,” his father said. “They’re going to miss him.”

Mr. Singh, the superintendent of light rail transportation for the V.T.A., shared an office with Mr. Megia. He described Mr. Megia as an easygoing manager who was popular with employees.

“Sometimes my demands could be unreasonable, but Paul always accepted it with a smile. He always was willing to help his employees,” Mr. Singh said. “They seemed to reach out to him for whatever their needs were.”

Taptejdeep Singh, a light rail operator for the V.T.A., was remembered by a cousin as the nicest person in his family and a gregarious man who enjoyed playing volleyball.

“We are very sad right now,” said the cousin, Bagga Singh, who was one of more than a dozen family members waiting all Wednesday to learn what had happened to their relative. Shortly after 6 p.m., they got the bad news. Several family members broke down sobbing at a Red Cross facility and were escorted away.

The death of Mr. Singh, who was Sikh and moved to the United States from India in 2005, marks the second time in two months that members of the country’s Sikh community mourned after a mass shooting. In April, four Sikhs were among the eight people killed in a shooting at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis.

Credit…Family photo

Taptejdeep Singh had a wife and two young children, Bagga Singh said, and enjoyed his job at the V.T.A., where he had been working for eight or nine years. He also had an insurance license and was a real estate agent, Bagga Singh said.

“He can work anything he wants, very smart guy,” he said.

Family members said county officials told them that Taptejdeep Singh acted heroically when he detected danger during the attack, calling out to his co-workers that shots were being fired and quickly ushering one woman into a secure room.

“I think he’s the one who tried to save the people, as many as he could,” said Bagga Singh, who also spoke out against gun violence: “Nobody should have a gun.”

Michael Joseph Rudometkin began working for the V.T.A. in 2013 as a transit mechanic, according to the agency. He then became an electro-mechanic and an overhead line worker.

Raul Peralez, a member of the San Jose City Council, called Mr. Rudometkin a “lifelong friend.” He said that he and his father had been planning a golf outing with Mr. Rudometkin.

“Now that will never happen again,” Mr. Peralez said on Facebook. “My family and I have lost a long time great friend and there are no words to describe the heartache we are feeling right now, especially for his family.”

Mr. Rudometkin was married and is survived by his parents and his sister, said Mr. Peralez, who told reporters on Thursday that he had met with Mr. Rudometkin’s wife, parents, sister and brother-in-law.

“I truly feel for all the victims’ families,” he said. “Personally, my heart is broken.”

Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, an immigrant from Iran, was a substation maintainer who worked at the transit agency for about two decades.

A family friend called him “like a second father of my own.”

Credit…Megan Staker

“He moved his family to the United States so that they could have a better life, which makes this horrific tragedy just all the worse,” said Megan Staker, whose boyfriend, Soheil, is Mr. Alaghmandan’s son.

“He worked so hard so that his family could have a good life,” she said. “He was so funny, and kind and loving, and could fix anything. Things will never be the same without him. He brought so much joy and laughter to our lives. To say he will be missed is an understatement. Our hearts are forever broken.”

Mr. Fritch started at the transit agency in 2012 as a mechanic and had worked most recently as a substation maintainer. He was the only one of the nine victims who died with his family by his side, at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

“He was our rock, my safe place to fall,” his wife, Tessa Fritch, told KTVU-TV. “He was the love of my life.”

The couple had been married for 20 years, Ms. Fritch said, and they planned to renew their vows in Hawaii in September. They had two teenage boys and a 30-year-old daughter.

Ms. Fritch told the station that their daughter came from San Diego to see him, as did his parents and friends. “We got to say goodbyes,” she said.

Timothy Romo began working for the transit agency over 20 years ago, and was last employed as an overhead line worker.

A native of Greenfield, Calif., Mr. Romo was the son of Mike Romo, a former police chief and mayor of Greenfield. He is survived by two sisters, two brothers and his parents, as well as his wife, children and grandchildren, the city’s current mayor, Lance Walker, said on Facebook.

Mr. Romo “touched the lives of anyone that knew him through his big smile and endless jokes,” according to a memorial fund set up for his family. “He will forever live in our hearts and be remembered as the funny, caring, selfless man that he was.”

A neighbor of Mr. Romo told The San Francisco Chronicle that he had been planning a vacation with his wife, hoping to visit their son, in the days before the shooting.

“He was a very friendly man, always ready to help you out,” said one neighbor, Nancy Martin.

This briefing will continue to be updated as we learn more about the victims.

Claudia Padilla, a light rail operator, placed flowers in front of San Jose City Hall to honor her co-workers who were killed in the shooting.
Credit…Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

A leader in a labor group that represents the workers killed at the rail yard in San Jose this week expressed frustration and bewilderment about the gunman’s motives on Thursday.

“No issues that we know of that were red flags — but what is a red flag?” said Arturo Aguilar, chairman of the California Conference Board of the Amalgamated Transit Union, in an interview on the lawn outside the union’s San Jose office. “We are not trained to analyze co-workers.”

Mr. Aguilar said the union did not see patterns in which of his colleagues that Samuel James Cassidy, 57, a maintenance worker for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, chose to shoot. The nine victims who were killed on Wednesday came from various departments, he said.

“We don’t know the relationships or the correlations between the victims and the shooter,” Mr. Aguilar said. “And we will never know.”

The union’s main task right now, Mr. Aguilar said, was consoling members, many of whom gathered at the union’s office on Thursday.

Cecilia Nelms, Samuel Cassidy’s ex-wife, at her home in Santa Cruz. “Every time we had an argument,” she said, “he would start yelling and screaming, hitting the walls, banging the table, slamming the door. Very intimidating.”
Credit…Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

The ex-wife of the man who fatally shot nine people at a San Jose rail yard this week said he grew angrier during their 10-year marriage and had complained about his co-workers, saying, “I wish I could kill them.”

The gunman, identified as Samuel Cassidy, and his ex-wife, Cecilia Nelms, 64, divorced in the mid-2000s, she said in an interview, and had not spoken in 13 years.

Ms. Nelms said that Mr. Cassidy, who proposed three months after they met in a nightclub in Cupertino, was initially the perfect husband. She said he loved pets — including several boa constrictors — and swam at a nearby gym.

“He was a good guy, very affectionate, thoughtful, polite,” she recalled.

But over the years, Ms. Nelms said, Mr. Cassidy’s personality changed. He grew meaner, angrier and more impatient, hating when her family members dropped by their home unannounced.

“It was escalating, little by little,” she said. “Every time we had an argument, he would start yelling and screaming, hitting the walls, banging the table, slamming the door. Very intimidating.”

Eventually, the arguing became too much, and the couple divorced.

Ms. Nelms said Mr. Cassidy took medication for depression and had complained about his co-workers at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, grumbling that some were lazy or had easier jobs than he did.

Occasionally, she said, Mr. Cassidy would say, “I wish I could kill them.”

But she did not think he was serious at the time, and said she was shocked when she heard that Mr. Cassidy had killed several of his colleagues.

“That was the last thing I would think he would do,” Ms. Nelms said. “I was just shaking.”

One thing in particular made no sense to her.

Mr. Cassidy, she said, had never expressed any interest in guns.

Sheriff Laurie Smith of Santa Clara County speaking at a news conference next to the Valley Transportation Authority rail yard on Wednesday. 
Credit…Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

Investigators do not yet know whether the victims of Wednesday’s shooting at a rail yard in San Jose were specifically targeted, and they have not identified a motive for the gunman, Laurie Smith, the sheriff of Santa Clara County, said in an interview Thursday morning on NBC’s “Today.”

“What in the world could possibly prompt someone to take this kind of action?” she said. “We don’t know at this point.”

Officers confronted Samuel James Cassidy, whom California law enforcement officials identified as the gunman, “within a few minutes,” Sheriff Smith said, suggesting the carnage could have been worse if they had not arrived quickly. The sheriff’s office headquarters is next door to the rail yard.

Mr. Cassidy carried two semiautomatic handguns and had 11 loaded magazines, she said, adding that police dogs at the scene found materials for bombs in what investigators believe to be his locker.

Investigators are also looking into how a fire at Mr. Cassidy’s house was apparently started while he was carrying out the attack. The police received the first report of shots fired at 6:34 a.m., and the call reporting the fire came in at 6:37 a.m.

“What we’re operating under now, but I’m not sure that this isn’t going to change, is that he set some kind of a device to go off at a certain time, probably to coincide with the shooting,” she said.

The nine victims of the shooting were spread over two buildings, she said.

“He was very deliberate, very fast,” she said. “He knew where employees would be.”

Police officers watched as residents who live near the suspect’s home, center, left the area.
Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Everything was set for an ordinary day in a suburban corner of southeastern San Jose on Wednesday. Doug Suh had an early golf game scheduled. Andy and Alice Abad were preparing for a morning doctor’s appointment. And Anthony Nguyen was, as always, set for his daily 9:30 a.m. church service.

But by early afternoon, each resident of the Evergreen neighborhood discovered in their own way that something had gone very wrong.

Early on Wednesday, Abad watched from his kitchen as a funnel of smoke and flames poured from a home one block away. Suh got a call from a friend on the golf course about a man who had killed eight workers at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority rail yard. (It would later become nine.) And Nguyen got a similar call from a friend but with a more disturbing detail: “The man who did it was your neighbor,” Nguyen’s friend told him.

By noon, their neighborhood was swarming with multiple fire and police vehicles, federal agents and a boxy blue truck from the San Jose bomb squad. Men with gas masks and oxygen tanks stood amid the flashing lights in the cul-de-sacs of what they all described as a quiet suburban neighborhood that is home largely to Vietnamese and Filipino immigrants.

Investigators on Thursday morning were still piecing together the havoc unleashed the day before.

The suspect in the shooting, Samuel James Cassidy, 57, a maintenance worker who had been with the V.T.A. for at least a decade, lived in a one-story home with white trim and a patchy lawn in the Evergreen neighborhood.

Officials said Wednesday that they believed Cassidy was responsible for both setting his home on fire and then proceeding to shoot his colleagues at his workplace, the railway yard eight miles from where he lived.

Suh, who lives across the street from the suspect, scanned through his security camera footage when he returned home from his golf game. The camera captured Cassidy at 5:40 a.m. loading his white pickup truck with a black bag. He was wearing a uniform with reflective stripes.

Nguyen, a retired real estate broker who has lived in San Jose for the past four decades, said he was baffled by what had happened.

“Everything has been very perfect,” he said of his neighborhood. “People are nice and quiet here.”

When he saw flashing lights on the corner of his street on Wednesday, he assumed there had been a traffic accident. Then his friend called with the news about the shooting.

“What about all these families that lost sons and fathers?” Mr. Nguyen asked in his driveway. “I’m so sorry for them. It’s not right. All these broken hearts.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom asked lawmakers to “move beyond the platitudes and the usual rhetoric” that follow mass shootings.
Credit…Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

California has some of the most progressive gun laws in the country and is one of two states to receive a full A rating from the Giffords Law Center, which advocates for gun reform. The state requires universal background checks for gun owners and restrictions on the size of magazines, along with other laws that restrict the types of firearms that a person can legally purchase.

But after a mass shooting on Wednesday that claimed nine lives at a San Jose rail yard, politicians including Gov. Gavin Newsom and President Biden urged lawmakers to take further action in legislating firearms. In a statement, Mr. Biden urged Congress to “heed the call of the American people, including the vast majority of gun owners, to help end this epidemic of gun violence.”

It is unclear what type of weapons were used by the gunman, whose body was found at the scene, where he had acquired them, or whether they would have met California’s legal standards. The state bans the possession of assault weapons, with some exceptions, and bans so-called ghost guns, which are typically assembled by an individual and do not contain a serial number.

According to the Giffords Law Center, which also gives an A rating to New Jersey, California has the seventh-lowest rate of gun deaths in the country, and has the most robust system for taking guns from people who are barred from having them.

At least one of California’s gun laws is being challenged in court. In August 2020, a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down a state law that banned the possession of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds. In February, however, the court said it would reconsider that decision.

The Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as one with four or more people injured or killed, not including the perpetrator, counted at least 232 mass shootings as of May 26. (The archive, a nonprofit organization, has counted 15 mass murders, which it defines as four or more people killed, in 2021.)

There is little consensus on the definition of a mass shooting, complicating the efforts of nonprofits and news organizations to document the scope of the problem.

The Violence Project follows the narrow definition of the Congressional Research Service, requiring the attacks to be in public and excluding domestic shootings and those “attributable to underlying criminal activity.” CNN has defined a mass shooting as one with four or more injuries or deaths. The Washington Post’s effort to track public mass shootings includes shootings with four or more people killed, but does not include robberies or domestic shootings in private homes.

This year they have included shootings in Atlanta. Indianapolis. Boulder, Colo. Boone, N.C. And now San Jose.

To some, it might have seemed as if mass shootings all but halted during the coronavirus pandemic, with a year passing between large-scale shootings in public places. But the shootings never stopped. They just weren’t as public.

The Gun Violence Archive counted more than 600 such shootings in 2020, compared with 417 in 2019.

Author: Eileen Sullivan, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Shawn Hubler and Thomas Fuller
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News