SAN JOSE — A VTA worker who heard the screams and witnessed the tragic outcome of the Bay Area’s deadliest workplace shooting attacked transit agency leaders, accusing them of ignoring a toxic work culture and dysfunctional management, which killed the shooter. put “on”. Edge.”
In a letter this week to the VTA’s new general manager and several board members, signalman Kirk Bertolet slammed the agency for “really not wanting to get to the bottom of this”.
“The shooting was done by a madman,” Bertolet wrote in an email to leaders on Monday evening. “But the stage was set for this disaster.”
Bertolet’s edgy attack comes nearly three weeks after a union leader and a widow severely criticized VTA management during a memorial service for nine victims at the SAP Center.
The letter is another sign of growing discontent over how the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Agency handled the red flags surrounding mechanic Sam Cassidy, a 20-year VTA veteran who killed his coworkers at the San Jose Railyard on May 26. Later he had pointed a gun at himself. , as well as how the agency is handling its consequences.
Along with the letter written to VTA leaders on Wednesday night, he also plans to address the board directly on Thursday evening during the board’s scheduled online board meeting, where the transit agency will be asked to discuss the timeline for reopening the rail line. was also determined to Tragedy.
Bertolet’s letter includes allegations that at least five managers were incompetent, failed to comply with VTA policy and “failed to maintain a healthy workplace.”
“Just because his chain of command didn’t do its job, didn’t treat Cassidy properly, didn’t document his outbursts and threats of violence against his co-workers, doesn’t mean there weren’t any and VTAs.” Is free of any fault or responsibility. What happened,” he wrote. “It is time that the management at VTA fully investigates these individuals and stops ignoring their failure.”
Gloria Rudometkin, the widow, who took the stage at the memorial service last month to express her frustrations, applauded Bertolet’s letter and said her husband Michael “must live today.”
“Instead, due to carelessness, poor communication and unforgivable mismanagement, she was murdered by a ‘highly disgruntled’ colleague,” she wrote in an email to this news organization. “The co-worker who murdered these people had previously expressed hatred of the VTA and dark thoughts about harming specific people they worked with. They bullied fellow coworkers and there was a documented case of defiance and altercation in the VTA. There was history.
In 2016, Cassidy was temporarily detained by federal customs agents at San Francisco International Airport after returning from a trip to the Philippines and a “manifesto” and a black box filled with notes about his hatred for the VTA. Received memo book. VTA officials say that they were never alerted about the encounter by the Home Security Department.
An email seeking comment from VTA general manager Carolyn Gonet via its media relations department was not answered Thursday afternoon.
But in the first public comments from a board member expressing concern over the VTA’s handling of the tragedy, Rich Constantine, who is also the mayor of Morgan Hill, called Bertolet’s letter “disturbing.”
“We can’t bury our heads in the sand and find out what happened,” Constantine said. “If it is systemic problems, they will be dealt with.”
The VTA has hired a law firm to act as an independent investigator looking into the issues surrounding the May 26 attack, although it is unclear what information they will seek.
In response to a Bay Area newsgroup’s public records requests, the VTA released several internal emails in recent weeks showing at least five workplace conflicts involving Cassidy over the past two years, including one in which a fellow employee was fired. Participation in the program is included. An email revealed that a co-worker was intimidated by Cassidy and worried that he would “go to the mail.”
Bertolet, who worked in the building at the VTA’s Guadalupe railyard where the shooting began, was one of the first six victims. Only one was breathing and later died in the hospital. He consoled a woman who had fallen on the floor during the shoot and survived.
Bertolet, 64, said in an interview on Thursday that he was forced to speak up. He is nearing retirement and is not afraid of any consequences of talking to the media. He is on medical leave and is seeing a doctor for the trauma he suffered that day, he said.
He hopes the increasing pressure on the VTA leadership will bring about a change.
“They’re just saying ‘Cassidy was crazy, that guy lost him and we had nothing to do with it.’ This is not true,” Bertolet said. “There is a perfect opportunity to go from the top down and reinvent a new agency with capable people and start a whole new corporate culture.”