SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas – An armor-clad gunman opened fire inside a rural Texas church on Sunday, killing more than two dozen people in the largest mass shooting in the state’s history, officials said.
At least 27 people were killed in Sunday’s church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said at a press conference.
About 20 others were wounded, said Freeman Martin, a regional director with the Texas Department of Public Safety, with victims ranging in age from 5 to 72 years old.
Among the dead is the 14-year-old daughter of the First Baptist Church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy, according to his wife, Sherri Pomeroy, the girl’s mother. The couple were traveling out of state when the shooting occurred.
Authorities have not said what may have motivated the suspected shooter, who was later found dead in his vehicle, according to the CNN.
He has been identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, according to two law enforcement officials.
Without naming Kelley, Martin described the shooter in Sunday’s press conference as a young white male who was dressed in all-black “tactical-type gear” and wearing a ballistic vest.
In April 2016, Kelley purchased the Ruger AR-556 rifle he used in the shooting from an Academy Sports & Outdoors store in San Antonio, Texas, a law enforcement official said.
Kelley was a member of the US Air Force and served at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge, according to Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.
Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 for assault on his spouse and assault on their child, according to Stefanek. Kelley served a year in prison and received a bad conduct discharge in 2014, the spokeswoman said. His rank was also reduced, she said.
Speaking from Japan, President Donald Trump condemned the shooting as an “act of evil” and called it “horrific.”
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
…Americans do what we do best: we pull together. We join hands. We lock arms and through the tears and the sadness, we stand strong… pic.twitter.com/qkCPgtKGkA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2017
Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a statement describing the shooting as a “horrific act”.
“I want to thank law enforcement for their response and ask that all Texans pray for the Sutherland Springs community during this time of mourning and loss.”
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
The shooting has devastated the small Texas town east of San Antonio, described as a place where “everybody knows everybody.”
According to the church’s website, congregants meet around 9:15 a.m. on Sundays for breakfast before Sunday school and the morning church service at 11 a.m. The sanctuary where the shooting occurred is small, with wooden pews and red carpeting.