Houston: A man wearing all black and a ballistic vest opened fire outside a small Baptist church in a tiny town in Texas, killing at least 27 people and injuring 20 others in the country’s most recent mass horror.
Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, confirmed the death toll, which has steadily increased throughout the day after the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.
In a press conference, Freeman Martin, a spokesman with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the deceased range in age from five to 72-year-old and also include a pregnant woman.
Although the governor and other authorities confirmed that the church shooter was “heavily armed white male, in his 20’s,” they refused to name him.
However, two other officials – one a US official and one in law enforcement – who were briefed on the investigation, identified him — on the condition of anonymity to the US media — as Devin P Kelley, 26.
Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas, who said he was briefed by law enforcement authorities, said the gunman came from Comal County, which is northeast of San Antonio.
“He went there, he walked in, started shooting people and then took off to Guadalupe County, which is northeast of Sutherland Springs,” he said.
In a press conference, Freeman Martin, a spokesman with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the suspect dropped his rifle, which was a Ruger AR assault-type rifle, and fled from the church.
“Around 11:20 am, the suspect, dressed in black, approached the church and began firing an assault rifle. He then entered the church and continued firing,” he said.
In a statement, Tom Vinger of the Texas Department of Public Safety said, “The shooter was later found deceased in his vehicle in Guadalupe County. The exact circumstances of the gunman’s death are still under investigation. The wounded individuals were transported to San Antonio Medical Center and University Hospital in San Antonio.”
Less than a thousand people live in this small rural town of Texas Sutherland Springs and officials believe that the number of people who are injured and killed make up about ten per cent of the entire population.
“While the details of this horrific act are still under investigation, Cecilia and I want to send our sincerest thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected by this evil act,” Governor Abbott said during a press conference.
“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,” Abbott said.
“The shooting at the church claimed 26 lives. Twenty- three of the dead were found dead inside the church,” officials said.
It’s the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history — and the fifth deadliest in modern US history.
One of the victims of the mass shooting was the church’s pastor Frank Pomeroy’s daughter, Annabelle.
“I was not at the church when the shooting took place. My youngest daughter, Annabelle, was,” Pomeroy told ABC News.
President Donald Trump, who is currently on a two-week tour of east Asia, made his first public appearance in Japan and expressed condolences to the victims of the mass shooting and also called Governor Abbot.
“May God be with the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas.
The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan,” Trump said.
The president opened previously scheduled remarks in Tokyo this morning with “thoughts and prayers” for the victims.
“In dark times, and these are dark times, such as these, Americans do what they do best and pull together,” Trump said.
“Through the tears and through the sadness we stand strong,” he said, adding that his administration would provide support to Texas and the local authorities investigating the shooting. PTI