At least 26 killed in Texas church shooting
Dozens of people were killed when a man opened fire in a church on Sunday in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) confirmed in a press conference on Sunday that at least 26 people have been killed in what he described as the state’s largest mass shooting to date.
The gunman was also killed, though authorities said it was not clear if the suspect had killed himself or had been shot by law enforcement.
Multiple news outlets, including The Associated Press, have identified the shooter as Devin Kelley, though officials at the press conference declined to give the suspect’s name.
According to one law enforcement official at the briefing, the suspect was first seen at a gas station across the street from the First Baptist Church, about 40 miles outside San Antonio, at around 11:20 a.m. The suspect then drove over to the church, exited his vehicle and began shooting. He then entered the church, where he continued firing his weapon.
At some point, according to the official, a local resident grabbed his own rifle and engaged the shooter. The suspect then got into his vehicle and drove off. He was later found dead in his car, though it wasn’t clear if he had shot himself or if police had shot him.
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are working with local law enforcement at the scene.
“I’m not sure we’ll know immediately why all of this happened or had to happen,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told CNN on Sunday. “It would not shock me if it takes more than a day or two, it may take weeks to unravel why this person decided to do this horrific thing.”
Paxton noted that Sunday’s shooting took place eight years to the day after 13 people were killed at Fort Hood.
Sutherland Springs is a rural town of less than 1,000 people. One woman, who works at a gas station across the street from the church, told ABC News she heard rapid gunfire that lasted about 15 seconds.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told pool reporters that President Trump has been briefed on the shooting.
“The President has been briefed several times and is continuing to receive regular updates on the tragic shooting in TX,” Sanders said. “The President spoke with Gov. Abbott earlier this morning. We will keep you posted as we can share more details. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the friends and families affected. May God comfort them all in this time of tragedy.”
Trump, who’s currently in Asia for a 12-day, five-nation tour, tweeted not long after reports of the shooting.
“May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan,” Trump wrote.
May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2017
First lady Melania Trump also expressed her condolences, tweeting: “Our hearts are with Texas.”
Our hearts are with #Texas
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) November 5, 2017
Abbott weighed in earlier on Sunday:
“Our prayers are with all who were harmed by this evil act. Our thanks to law enforcement for their response,” Abbott wrote.
Our 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://t.co/KMCRmOPkiM
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) November 5, 2017
Abbott later announced on Twitter that he would be visiting Sutherland Springs on Sunday to meet with families and state, local and federal officials.
Texas Sens. Ted Cruz (R) and John Cornyn (R) also both tweeted in response to the shooting.
“Keeping all harmed in Sutherland Springs in our prayers and grateful for our brave first responders on the scene,” Cruz wrote.
Keeping all harmed in Sutherland Springs in our prayers and grateful for our brave first responders on the scene.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 5, 2017
Cornyn tweeted: “Truly heartbreaking news in Sutherland Springs. Please say a prayer for First Baptist congregation, first responders & the community there.”
Truly heartbreaking news in #Sutherland Springs. Please say a prayer for First Baptist congregation, first responders & the community there
— JohnCornyn (@JohnCornyn) November 5, 2017
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.