A mass shooting has occurred in the US state of Texas when a gunman opened fire in Midland and Odessa, killing five people and injuring 21 others.
Reports state that the lone shooter had been at large, using two separate vehicles during the spree, after being stopped by police on Saturday afternoon.
The officer, who stopped the white male, said to be in his 30s was shot, which then lead to the gunman then driving to Odessa before hijacking a postal van and eventually being apprehended and killed outside of a cinema in Midland.
Odessa police chief Michael Gerke told the press:
As far as civilian casualties we have at least 21 shooting victims and at least five deceased.
This was a joint effort by a multitude of departments to find this animal and bring him to justice.
He is a white male in his 30s. I don’t have a positive identification on him yet – I have an idea who he is but I won’t release that information until we’re absolutely positive.
This is the second mass shooting to occur in Texas in less than a month, following the massacre in El Paso where 22 people lost their lives in an apparent hate crime.
In response both the Odessa and Midland police departments have asked the public to assist them in whatever manner they can but most importantly to stay safe.
President Trump confirmed that he had been briefed on the shooting and that FBI and law enforcement were engaged.
When events like this happen there is often a lot of speculation and rumours on social media, where misinformation and apparent images and videos from the incident are circulated.
However, in such a sensitive time it is important to remain vigilant and only take your information from credible news sources and outlets, in order to not hinder the investigation in any way.
With that in mind, we have compiled a few things to consider that will help authorities and others understand what happened.
1. Get your information from official news sources
At this heightened time, people might share what they claim to be accurate information about what has happened in Texas, which could easily make it's way on to whatever social media platforms you use.
If you happen to see something like this always check the source of the information, and be sure that it has come from official channels and reliable places. If you feel like you must share something first double-check that has been reported by authorities before posting it on social media.
2. If you think you have information, send it to the right source
At this time there is little information about what has happened and the local authorities are still investigating the incident.
If you believe you have any knowledge, imagery or footage that could help, it is important to send it to the right people and not to share it online.
Sharing such information online at this time before contacting authorities can seriously hinder an investigation. Your evidence, no matter how small, could be imperative.
3. Don’t share any graphic content or disturbing imagery
As with previous shootings, several videos and images from what appears to be the incident have appeared online but at this time it cannot be confirmed if they were from Saturday's shooting.
More importantly, it should be stressed that if you happen to see any of these videos of the shooting, whether graphic or not, DO NOT SHARE IT.
Such videos cause intense stress to others, especially family and friends of the victims. It is also disrespectful to the victims.
If you have seen any footage of the incident on social media, please contact those respective platforms’ moderators.
4. Follow the advice of the authorities
The best way you can help authorities is by following their advice. If you are in the area or wish to keep updated on the investigation, follow the official social media accounts of the Odessa and Midland police departments.
They frequently update with correct information and debunk false information floating around on the web.
If you are currently residing in America you can contact the police via the following methods:
You can find the Odessa Police Department Facebook page here and the Midland Police Department Facebook page here.
If you have been affected by this story and currently live in the UK we recommend that you contact the American high commission in London.
They can be reached via the following means.
Address: 33 Nine Elms Ln, Nine Elms, London SW11 7US