At least 25 people have been killed, and many more injured, in a mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a small town about 30 miles east of San Antonio. Devin Kelley, a 26-year-old male, walked into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and opened fire, marking one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history, and the largest in Texas history.
The shooting wounded nearly everyone inside the church that attended the service, about 50 people, in a town of just a few hundred. Among those killed, 23 people died inside the church, two outside the building, and one person died after being transported to a hospital, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The ages of the wounded and dead ranged from 5 to 72, authorities said.
Freeman Martin, regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the shooter was dressed in all black, tactical-type gear, when he opened fire on the church. “He was seen dressed in all black. He started firing at the church,” he said. “He moved to the right side of the church and continued to fire, then he went in the church.” He was “dressed all in black tactical type gear and was wearing a ballistic vest.”
According to Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office spokesman Robert Murphy, the shooter was killed after a brief chase. It is not known whether or not Kelley shot himself, but one report claims that a citizen inside of the church confronted Kelley.
He “grabbed his rifle and confronted the suspect,” who was armed with a “Ruger AR assault type rifle,” according to heavy.com. The unidentified citizen was then reported to have chased Kelley, who attempted to flee in a vehicle and ran off the road. Kelley was found dead in the vehicle with a gunshot wound.
“We don’t know if it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound or if he was shot by our local resident who engaged him with gunfire,” authorities said.
A witness, a cashier at a gas station across the street from the church, told CNN she heard about 20 shots being fired in quick succession while a church service was underway around 11:30 a.m. local time.
David Flores, a local resident, told CNN, “My dad saw the gunman run into the church building and then he heard shots and saw people running.” Flores told CNN. “People covered in blood and screaming. It was pandemonium everywhere.”
According to both witness accounts and official reports, pregnant women and young children were among the victims in the shooting, including the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter Annabelle, and a two-year-old toddler, according to reports by KNES5.
“There were several children injured,” Flores told CNN. “I know three, personally, who are in critical condition.”
San Antonio police reportedly raided Kelley’s home on Sunday evening.
In the aftermath of the shooting, FBI authorities searched Kelley’s Facebook profile and found a posted picture of a rifle Kelley called a “bad bitch.” His profile picture showed two children as well. His Facebook account has since been removed.
According to the Daily Beast, “Kelley was married and Kelley’s mother-in-law listed a P.O. box in Sutherland Springs as a mailing address." It is also reported that he briefly taught at a summer Bible school.
Authorities have revealed that Kelley was part of the US Air Force after high school, from 2010 to 2014. CBS News reported that “Kelley is a former US Air Force member who served from 2010 to 2014. He was dishonorably discharged and court martialed in May 2014.”
The tragedy that unfolded Sutherland Springs marks the 307th mass shooting—defined as an incident in which four or more people are shot or killed—in the United States this year, according to information compiled by the Gun Violence Archive.
An article published by the Guardian after the mass shooting in Las Vegas reported that 1,516 mass shootings had occurred within the last 1,735 days, with 1,719 killed and 6,510 injured. Using data from Gun Violence Archive, the Guardian concluded “there is a mass shooting ... every nine out of 10 days on average.”