Governor: 26 killed in church shooting, making it deadliest mass shooting in Texas history
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas(WABB/KTXS/SBG) - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says 26 are dead after a shooting inside First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, making it the deadliest mass shooting in the state's history.
Law enforcement officials identified the gunman as Devin Patrick Kelley, age 26, of neighboring Comal County. His house is to be searched shortly, officials said.
A Texas Department of Public Safety official said 23 were found dead in the church, two were found outside, and one was taken to the hospital and died later.
The victims ranged in age from 5 to 72, the official said.
Sutherland Springs is an unincorporated community in northern Wilson county, about 35 miles east of downtown San Antonio. Its population was 362 in 2000; now it's 400.
Details of the shooting
The gunman walked into the church and began shooting, witnesses told SBG San Antonio. Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt says the shooter has been taken down and is dead, The Associated Press reports.
Between 10 and 15 people have been injured. At least six of those people are currently being treated for gunshot wounds at a hospital in Floresville, SBG San Antonio reports.
The FBI and the San Antonio Bomb Squad were called to the scene.
Pastor of nearby River Oaks Church Paul Buford told reporters that families of the victims would be gathering at his church's community center, just two blocks up the street. He told SBG San Antonio that the pastor of First Baptist Church, Frank Pomery, and his wife were not at the church when the shooting occurred; they were out of town, and are now on their way back.
Wife Sherri Pomeroy says the couple's 14-year-old daughter was among those killed in a mass shooting at the church. She wrote in a text message to The Associated Press that she lost her daughter "and many friends" in the Sunday shooting.
A spokesperson for University Hospital in San Antonio tells SBG San Antonio that five adults and four children are being treated. One more is on the way.
Eyewitnesses report witnessing several people get shot, according to SBG San Antonio. Their graphic accounts flooded social media Sunday.
Abbott responded to Sunday's shooting shortly after, taking to Twitter to write: "Our prayers are with all who were harmed by this evil act. Our thanks to law enforcement for their response."
Greg Abbott ✔@GregAbbott_TXOur prayers are with all who were harmed by this evil act. Our thanks to law enforcement for their response. More details from DPS soon. https://twitter.com/jaketapper/status/927248847910375424 …
1:11 PM - Nov 5, 20171,4371,437 Replies 1,5071,507 Retweets 2,9272,927 likes
ATF says that special agents from their Houston and San Antonio offices are on the scene of the shooting. A bomb squad is en route.
"The thoughts and prayers of all Texans are with the people of Sutherland Springs as tragic reports come out of First Baptist Church," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement to SBG San Antonio. "My office stands ready to assist local law enforcement as needed. Please join Angela and me as we pray for those impacted by this horrific shooting."
A photo captured near the scene shows police officers blocking off a road reporting to the scene. Chopper footage from SBG San Antonio illustrates numerous first response vehicles on the scene.
The First Baptist Church and nearby River Oaks Church have worked together for years, Pastor Buford said. He told SBG San Antonio that he knows everyone in the First Baptist Church.
Sutherland Springs is an unincorporated community in northern Wilson county about 35 miles east of downtown San Antonio. Its population was 362 in 2000; now it's 400.
A woman who lives about 10 minutes away from Sutherland Springs in Floresville and was monitoring the chaos on a police scanner and in Facebook community groups told The Associated Press that everyone knows everyone in the sparsely populated county.
"This is horrific for our tiny little tight-knit town," said Alena Berlanga. "Everybody's going to be affected and everybody knows someone who's affected," she said.
There are 11 hotels in the area. There used to be a 52-floor facility, but it closed in 1923.
The church is a white, wood-framed building with a double-door at the entrance and a Texas flag on a pole at the front area, according to its website, which was down shortly after the shooting. The website says the church schedule was for a fellowship breakfast on Sunday mornings, followed by Sunday School.
A morning worship service was scheduled for 11 a.m. The first news reports of the shooting were between noon and 12:30 p.m.
First Baptist Church Facebook group has 120 members. It usually films its services; however, footage from Sunday has not been posted.