Texas gunman Seth Ator missed me by inches
ODESSA, Texas — This is the bullet-pocked windshield of a Texas delivery driver who came within inches of being another victim of rifle-wielding madman Seth Ator’s deadly rampage, the motorist told The Post.
Joseph Mansanales was sitting at a red light at Tanglewood Lane and Maple Avenue in Odessa, on his way to make a Saturday delivery for the West County Furniture Exchange, when he found himself in Ator’s roving path of destruction.
“I was coming to the stoplight, about to turn, and a car drove through the intersection and ran through the red light,” recalled Mansanales, 38. “I had to hit my brakes, and as he was coming through, he squeezed off a shot.”
The round from Ator’s AR-style weapon pierced Mansanales’ windshield before grazing the dashboard, leaving the driver spooked — but unscathed.
“It didn’t make sense,” he said. “I was looking through a bullet hole.”
Mansanales — at that point unaware that Ator was in the midst of a massacre that would leave seven people dead and 22 wounded before he was shot dead by cops — quickly regained his composure, dialed 911 and took off after Ator while waiting to get through.
“I didn’t know this was a thing until I finally got through to 911,” he said. “I pulled over, called 911 and took off to follow him to try to get a license plate, but he was too far gone.
“I basically figured he was just shooting people at random,” he said. “It wasn’t like he shot at me and kept going. He paused to squeeze a shot in my direction.”
The bloodshed had begun about 15 minutes earlier on a stretch of I-20 between Midland and Odessa when state troopers tried to pull over Ator, 36, for a minor traffic infraction.
Ator — who had been fired from his job as a truck driver earlier that day — instead fired on the troopers with his rifle, seriously wounding one, before taking off in his gold Toyota pickup truck.
Over the next several minutes, he fired indiscriminately at motorists and pedestrians alike, including Mansanales.
Ator was still in the Toyota when he took a potshot at Mansanales, but at some point ditched the truck, shot dead an on-duty postal worker and hijacked her mail truck to continue his rampage.
He was ultimately confronted by cops in the parking lot of an Odessa movie theater, and shot dead as horrified onlookers cowered in a nearby field.
Mansanales said his near-miss has left him grateful to be alive — with that gratitude directed to a higher power.
“I’ll tell you, I’m more religious today than I was before,” he said. “It’s like God said, ‘I’ll take this one.’”
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