Multiple casualties after gunman opens fire in Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Gunman Opens Fire in Texas Baptist Church, Kills at Least 26

Gunman Opens Fire in Texas Baptist Church, Kills at Least 26

The Slatest
Your News Companion
Nov. 5 2017 3:32 PM

Gunman Opens Fire in Texas Baptist Church, Kills at Least 26

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The area around a site of a mass shooting is taped out in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, in this picture obtained via social media.

Max Massey/ KSAT 12/via Reuters

Update, Nov. 6, 2017, at 8:40 a.m.: Speaking to reporters at a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday, Trump said he believed the shooting was the result of a "mental health problem" and not gun policy. Trump, who is visiting Japan this week as part of an Asia trip, was asked if he believed gun control laws could solve problems with shootings in the U.S. "This isn't a guns situation," he responded. He pointed out that another person with a gun had been "shooting in the opposite direction" and that otherwise "it would have been much worse."

"This is a mental health problem at the highest level," he said. "It's a very, very sad event."

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He also called it a "little bit soon to go into it."

Update at 7:35 p.m.: Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt has gone on the record to say that at least 26 people were killed, and 20 others were injured, when a gunman opened fire at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The age of the victims ranged from five to 72 and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called it the largest mass shooting in the history of the state. The vast majority of the bodies—23—were found inside the church, two were found outside, and one person was taken to hospital but died.

The gunman has been identified as 26-year-old Devin Kelley from New Braunfels, Texas, which is about 35 miles from Sutherland Springs. A LinkedIn account that appears to be of the shooter claims he spent four years in the Air Force. According to CBS News, Kelley served from 2010 to 2014 and was dishonorably discharged and court martialed in May 2014. His Facebook account, which appears to have been taken down, reportedly had a photo of an AR-15 style gun.

Authorities say Kelley, who was dressed in tactical gear, began shooting outside the church shortly before 11:30 a.m. He then went inside and continued his shooting spree. When Kelley left the church he was confronted by a local resident with a rifle, leading him to flee in a car. That same resident proceeded to chase Kelley, who then crashed and authorities found him dead with a gunshot wound in neighboring Guadalupe County. It’s still unclear whether he shot himself or whether he was shot by the private citizen.

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Update at 4:52 p.m.: At least 27 people are dead after an unidentified gunman opened fire in the middle of Sunday morning services at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Officials still haven’t released an official number of casualties, but ABC News hears from a law enforcement official that at least 27 people were killed. The San Antonio Express-News hears from a federal law enforcement official that at least 28 people were killed, but it isn’t clear whether that number includes the shooter.

The shooter apparently tried to flee the scene in a car but died after a brief pursuit from law enforcement. It remains unclear whether he was killed by police or if he died of a self-inficted gunshot wound. As many as 20 people were wounded.

If the numbers are accurate it means that the gunman shot pretty much everyone at the tiny church. “There's maybe 50 of us,” one person who didn’t attend the church Sunday said. “It's a small, tight-knit church.”

It seems the gunman shot everyone in sight, regardless of age and there is at least one child who was killed. The church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy, confirmed to media outlets that his 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle Renee Pomeroy, was among the dead. Pomeroy was in Oklahoma this morning and didn’t attend services Sunday.

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FBI and ATF investigators quickly arrived at the scene to assist in the investigation.

Original post: There are reports of multiple fatalities after a gunman opened fire inside a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, which is located around 30 miles southeast of San Antonio, Texas. Witnesses report seeing a gunman walk into the First Baptist Church and start shooting at around 11:30 a.m. Officials say there were multiple casualties, many of them fatal but they haven’t released numbers yet. A County Commissioner in Texas says he was told more than 20 people were killed and more than 20 others wounded, but those numbers have yet to be confirmed.

A cashier at a nearby gas station said she heard around 20 shots fired during the church service.

The shooter was killed following a short pursuit by police but it still isn’t clear whether he was killed by officers or he shot himself.

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President Donald Trump quickly reacted to the news, sending a tweet nothing that he is “monitoring the situation from Japan.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also took to Twitter shortly after the news broke: "Our prayers are with all who were harmed by this evil act."

*This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.

Molly Olmstead is a Slate assistant social media editor.