Worst mass shooting in Texas history occurs Sunday morning
Texas experienced its worst mass shooting in history on Sun, Nov. 5. At least 26 people were killed at a small Baptist church in Sutherland Springs shortly after the Sunday morning service began at 11 a.m.
The gunman has been identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, who according to law enforcement officials lived in New Braunfels, Texas– 35 miles from Sutherland Springs. Kelley died shortly after the attack.
shooting, two of the five deadliest mass shootings in modern United States history have occurred in the last 35 days; just a little over one month ago, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock killed 58 people from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. 18 mass shootings have occured in the last ten years.
Kelley, wearing all black, with a ballistic vest on and a military-style rifle, opened fire and murdered many of those inside First Baptist Church. Victims ranged from 5 to 72 years old. Among the dead were several children, a pregnant woman and the 14-year-old daughter of the pastor, Frank Pomeroy. Over 20 others were injured.
Officials say that Kelley first began shooting from outside the church. He then entered the building and kept firing. Upon emerging from the church, a neighbor who had heard the shooting and armed himself exchanged gunfire, hitting Kelley, who fled in his car. Neighbors appear to have followed him and chased him into the next county, Guadalupe County, where he crashed his car. He was found dead in the vehicle and it is unclear how exactly Kelley died.
President Trump, who is currently on his 13-day trip through Asia, was in Japan at the time of the shooting. Trump called it a “horrific shooting” and ordered flags to be flown at half mast at the White House and all federal buildings through Thursday. Trump added that in a time of crisis “Americans will do what we do best: we pull together and join hands and lock arms and through the tears and sadness we stand strong.”
Sutherland Springs sits at about 34 miles from San Antonio and has a population in the low hundreds. In 2000 the census recorded the population at 362. The current death toll would amount to about 7 percent of the population.
Officials said that Kelley used a Ruger AR-15 variant, which is a knockoff of a standard service rifle carried by American military. Most of these guns legally sold in the United States fire only semi automatically. They were covered by the federal assault weapons ban that went into effect in 1994, but this ban expired in 2004 and since then they have been legal to sell or possess in much of the United States.
Kelley served in the Air Force at a New Mexico base, but was dishonorably discharged in 2014 after he was court-martialed in 2012 on charges of assaulting his wife and child and was sentenced to 12 months in confinement. He grew up in New Braunfels.
The Los Angeles Times reported that a Facebook profile under the gunman’s name featured a photo of an AR-15 style semi automatic rifle. Additionally, it appears that in recent months, Kelley was adding strangers as friends on Facebook from “within 20 minutes” of the Sutherland Springs area and starting fights with them.
While the motive remains unclear, US Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, who had been briefed by investigators, said that “I’ve been talking to some community members. They think there was a relative there. It was not random…there’s going to be some sort of nexus between the shooter and this small community.”
For now, the FBI remains on the scene of the shooting, and agents from San Antonio’s field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive will also be assisting in the investigation.