DALLAS — The gunman who killed seven people in West Texas over Labor Day weekend was hospitalized nearly two decades ago at a psychiatric facility, where he punched a hole in a wall and menaced security staff with a piece of pipe pried from a toilet before being arrested, according to police.
Seth Ator was being treated in July 2001 at an in-patient facility in Waco, about 105 miles (169 kilometers) south of Dallas, when he became so violent that staff called the police, Assistant Chief Robert Lanning said Wednesday.
The next month, Ator, then 18, tried to break into a woman's bedroom after threatening to kill her brother, according to arrest reports obtained by The Associated Press. A day after the attempted break-in, he jumped from a second-floor window to evade authorities but was eventually taken into custody and back to the hospital, where staff determined he had "suicidal tendencies," the documents
It is unclear whether the events nearly two decades ago in Waco and the suburb of Lorena have any bearing on the Aug. 31 mass shooting that stretched from Midland to Odessa, some 350 miles away. It also is unknown whether the hospitalization affected a federal background check that a law enforcement official said blocked Ator from buying a gun in 2014 because of a "mental health
But an interview with Waco police and reports from the McLennan County Sheriff's Office portray a young man who was deeply troubled 18 years before authorities say he opened fire in a rolling rampage that spanned 10 miles. They emphasize a long history of alarming and threatening behavior that did not, ultimately, prevent Ator from obtaining an assault-style
Officers killed Ator, 36, outside a busy Odessa movie theater after shootings that lasted more than an hour and injured around two dozen people in addition to the dead.
Asked about Ator's 2001 arrest, the FBI declined to comment on its investigation into the shooting.
Investigators are looking into how Ator obtained the rifle he used despite failing a background check. Last week, they searched the home of a man in Lubbock, who they believe was involved in the "transfer" of the weapon, a federal law enforcement official previously told the AP. The official said federal agents are investigating whether the Lubbock man has been manufacturing firearms but that there have been no