'Start Here': Hurricane Dorian inches toward US after battering Bahamas and suspected Odessa shooter's calls to police, FBI before rampage

Here's what you need to know to start your day.

It's Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. Let's start here.

1. Dorian's destruction

Hurricane Dorian has battered the Bahamas, leaving a path of destruction behind as the storm makes its way toward the southeastern coast of the U.S.

At least five people died on the Abaco Islands, Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Monday, and thousands of homes were reportedly destroyed.

ABC News' Marcus Moore was hunkered down with a team of ABC News producers as Dorian tore through the island and describes the catastrophic damage on "Start Here" today, "It looks like a massive tornado came through. You have trees that have been snapped, there are buildings that have been wiped clean from the foundation. There's also a couple of buildings that I'm looking at that have collapsed."

Millions along the southeastern coast of the U.S. are currently under mandatory evacuation orders. Dorian's latest track has the storm moving close to Florida's east coast Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon, likely as a Category 3 hurricane.

2. 'Rambling' calls before rampage

Authorities in Texas have revealed that the suspected gunman who terrorized the Midland-Odessa area on Saturday in a deadly shooting spree was fired from his trucking job and called both the police and the FBI just before opening fire.

Seth Ator, 36, and his employer each dialed 911 on the other after a disagreement over the firing, according to officials. Ator also called the FBI National Tip Line, but authorities said he made no specific threats and was rambling about various grievances in his life.

Investigators do not believe Ator's dismissal prompted him to allegedly commit the mass shooting. Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the FBI field office in San Antonio, described Ator's calls as "rambling and incoherent" and of someone in "great mental distress."

"The FBI told me yesterday that they believe that this started long ago, months, maybe years ago when this suspect descended into madness," ABC News Chief National Correspondent Matt Gutman says. "He was clinically diagnosed as being mentally ill and started this downward spiral that the FBI tells me ultimately led to this shooting."

The shooter began the rampage on Saturday after a routine traffic stop, killing seven and injuring over 20 others across more than 20 locations before he was gunned down by police, according to officials.

3. Massive boat inferno

Several bodies have been recovered after a diving boat off the coast of Santa Barbara, California burst into flames early Monday morning as 34 passengers slept below deck. Rescuers have continued to search for survivors, but many of the passengers are feared dead.

"I'm told the flames were 30 feet high," ABC News' Kayna Whitworth reports. "The boat was on fire from bow to stern and it went up in minutes, and people really don't know how."

Five of the crew members jumped into the water 20 yards off shore, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. They were rescued by a nearby boat, owned by Bob and Shirley Hansen who told Whitworth the crew was crying and distraught when they pulled them ashore.

"What they were describing to Bob and Shirley was just a horrific scene," Whitworth says. "They said they tried to go down to where all of those people were sleeping and it was just flames, bright orange."

"Start Here," ABC News' flagship podcast, offers a straightforward look at the day's top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or the ABC News app. Follow @StartHereABC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for exclusive content and show updates.


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Doff your cap:

A team of employees at Chick-fil-A in western Texas stayed late to help their community in the wake of the latest mass shooting.

The restaurant was prepared to close early and send the staff home after "heartbreaking" news broke of a deadly rampage in the Odessa and Midland community on Saturday afternoon, but the entire staff opted to help prepare a hot meal for first responders instead.

"Sometimes light in a dark world looks as simple as a hot chicken sandwich. We just couldn’t be prouder of these helpers and their hearts of gold," said the restaurant on a Facebook post.