“V.T.A. is a family,” Mr. Hendricks said, his voice shaking. “Everyone in the organization knows everyone.”
As multiple 911 calls came in Wednesday morning, officers were dispatched from the San Jose Police Department and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, which is headquartered next door to the rail yard. Local fire crews, meanwhile, raced to Mr. Cassidy’s home in the Evergreen neighborhood of San Jose, a quiet suburban enclave populated largely by Vietnamese and Filipino immigrants.
Andy and Alice Abad said they called 911 when they saw a funnel of smoke pouring out of Mr. Cassidy’s home, a one-story gray house with white trim and a patchy lawn. “The flames were above the rooftop,” Mr. Abad said.
He took a picture on his cellphone before leaving with his wife to a doctor’s appointment. When he returned home at noon, the cul-de-sacs were swarming with multiple emergency 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.
Family court records show that Mr. Cassidy was married for 10 years to a dental assistant; the couple had no children and broke up in 2004, citing irreconcilable differences. In 2009, he sought a restraining order against his former girlfriend, Connie Wang.
In papers filed with family court, he accused her of vandalizing his roommate’s car, calling at late hours, hurling insults and suggesting she had him under surveillance. She responded at the time that he had tried to force himself on her sexually, and that he had “major mood swings due to bipolar disorder” that were exacerbated when he drank to excess. The court ordered Ms. Wang to stay at least 300 yards from him, his parents and his new girlfriend for three years.
In an interview, Ms. Wang said that she had met Mr. Cassidy on Match.com in 2008, and that he proposed after just two months. When she refused, she said, the relationship “went downhill” and he became physically abusive.