First Baptist Church Sutherland Springs.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas, November 5 — A gunman dressed in black tactical gear massacred at least 26 worshipers and wounded 20 others at a white-steepled church in Texas on Sunday, carrying out the latest in a series of mass shootings that have plagued the United States.
The lone suspect, also wearing a ballistic vest and carrying a Ruger assault rifle, fired into the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs and kept shooting after he went inside. Sutherland Springs is in Wilson County, about 40 miles (65 km) east of San Antonio.
The victims ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old, law enforcement officials told a news conference. Among the dead was the 14-year-old daughter of Pastor Frank Pomeroy, the family told several television stations.
After the shooting, the gunman, described as a white man in his 20s, was fired on by a local resident with a rifle. The suspect dropped his assault weapon, and fled in his vehicle, said Freeman Martin, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Soon afterward, the suspect crashed his vehicle near the border of neighboring Guadalupe County and was found dead inside with a cache of weapons.
It was not immediately clear if the suspect killed himself or was hit when the resident fired at him outside the church, authorities said.
"We are dealing with the largest mass shooting in our state’s history," Texas Governor Greg Abbott said at the news conference. "The tragedy of course is worsened by the fact that it occurred in a church, a place of worship where these people were innocently gunned down."
The suspect's identity was not disclosed by authorities, but law enforcement officials who asked not to be named said he was Devin Patrick Kelley, described as a white, 26-year-old man, the New York Times
and other media reported.
"We don't think he had any connection to this church," Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told CNN. "We have no motive."
The US Air Force said Kelley served in its Logistics Readiness unit at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge in 2014.
Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 on charges of assaulting his wife and child, and given a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for 12 months and a reduction in rank, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said.
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