More than 2 dozen dead after gunman opens fire at church near San Antonio

The Latest

  • At least 26 people confirmed dead; dozens more injured. Twenty-three people were found dead inside the church, two outside and one person died at the hospital. | Read more about the victims
  • Alleged shooter identified as Devin Kelley, 26, of New Braunfels | Read more about his background
  • Shooting suspect was found dead inside a vehicle a few miles north of Sutherland Springs
  • University Hospital in San Antonio is treating at least nine patients from the shooting — four children and five adults

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — The gunman who opened fire with an assault rifle during a church service near Sutherland Springs, Texas, had an assault rifle and was wearing “tactical-type gear” including a bullet-proof vest, according to officials. As of Sunday evening, more than 20 people died and more than 20 were injured.

Law enforcement officials identified the alleged shooter as Devin Kelley, 26, according to NBC News. Public records show an address in New Braunfels. Officials at a press conference Sunday did not identify the shooter and said they were waiting to investigate his vehicle, which contained multiple weapons, before releasing his name. They did say he was white, in his 20s and wearing all-black at the time.

The suspect walked into the First Baptist Church, about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio, and opened fire around 11:20 a.m., according to Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin. The suspect began firing at the church, walked to the right side of the building and fired some more and then entered the building and fired more shots. Prior to the shooting, the suspect was seen at the nearby Valero gas station.

As of 6 p.m. Sunday, authorities say 26 people died. Twenty-three people were found dead inside the church, two were found dead outside the church and one person died at the hospital. He called it the largest mass shooting in Texas’ history. Martin said officials are working to identify the victims and are not ready to release names yet, but that the ages of the victims ranged from 5 to 72 years old.

“There were people in the church who escaped who were not wounded,” said Martin.

Guadalupe County Sheriff Arnold Zwicke said a citizen confronted the suspect with his own gun at the church in Wilson County, and then the suspect drove off.

The person who confronted the suspect at the church and another man were in a car that chased him between 6-8 miles away to Guadalupe County, Zwicke said. Investigators found the suspect’s car in a ditch at the intersection of Farm to Market Road 539 and Hartfield Road. The suspect was dead inside it and had a gunshot wound. Zwicke did not know if it was self-inflicted.

“A citizen followed him to this location and this is where it ended,” Zwicke said, noting that street signs along the road had been hit.

Johnnie Langendorff was one of the men who chased after the suspect. Langendorff told KSAT in a live interview he saw two men exchanging gunfire in front of the church. When the shooter took off in his vehicle, the Good Samaritan came up to his car.

“The other gentlemen came and he said we needed to pursue him, that he just shot up the church, so that’s what I did,” explained Langendorff to KSAT. Langendorff says they were driving around 95 mph on FM 539 to catch up to the suspect.

“He just lost control and that’s when I put the vehicle in park – because I was still on the phone with dispatch,” said Langendorff. “The other gentleman jumped out and had his rifle drawn and he didn’t move after that.”

He said the Texas Rangers have taken over the investigation.

One hospital about 10 miles from the shooting says “multiple” victims with gunshot wounds are being treated there, according to the Associated Press. Connally Memorial Medical Center spokeswoman Megan Posey declined to say how many patients were being treated at the hospital, but said the number was less than a dozen. The hospital is in Floresville, Texas.

The University Health System in San Antonio shared on Facebook that its trauma team is caring for nine patients related to the shooting — four children and five adults. One other patient is on the way to that hospital.

The pastor of the church and his wife were out of town during the shooting, but she told the Associated Press their daughter was one of the people who died.

Special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Houston Field Division and San Antonio Field office are responding along with local law enforcement.

“Our prayers are with all who were harmed by this evil act,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a post on Twitter. “Our thanks to law enforcement for their response.” Abbott’s communications director tweeted that the governor is headed to Sutherland Springs for a briefing and media availability.

The governor also ordered all Texas flags lowered to half staff until Thursday to honor the lives lost in the shooting.

Sherri Pomeroy, the wife of church pastor Frank Pomeroy, told NBC News that her husband was out of town at the time of the shooting.

President Donald Trump posted condolences to Twitter Sunday afternoon, saying “May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas.” He said the FBI was on scene.

Sutherland Springs is a community of about 400 people 30 miles southeast of San Antonio.

KXAN.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s