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.
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.”