Update: The suspect, identified as Devin P. Kelley, reportedly entered the church in what witnesses have described as black “tactical gear,” including what may have been a bullet-resistant vest, and began firing a semi-automatic rifle at approximately 11:30 a.m. local time. After killing 26 people, ranging in age from 5 to 72 years old, the rampage ended when a civilian opened fire on Kelley using either a rifle or shotgun, prompting the suspect to drop his weapon and flee in his vehicle, possibly with the civilian giving chase.
The suspect crashed his vehicle after a brief police chase, and officers found the suspect dead inside. There has not yet been word as to whether Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, or if he was indeed hit by the good Samaritan that ended his killing spree. A number of other weapons were found inside his vehicle.
“We are dealing with the largest mass shooting in our state’s history,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said at a 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.”
Update: Multiple law enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, have identified 26-year-old Devin P. Kelley of the Houston area as the suspect believed to be responsible for the shooting. Kelley reportedly walked into the church and opened fire before fleeing the scene. A brief chase with law enforcement ensued that resulted in Kelley’s death, but no confirmation has been forthcoming as to whether Kelley took his own life or if he was killed in an engagement with police.
Update: Wilson County Sheriff, Joe Tackitt, has now confirmed that at least 20 people were killed in the attack. According to reports, First Baptist Church Pastor Frank Pomeroy’s 14-year-old daughter is among the dead.
Original story is as follows:
Police are currently responding to an active shooter event at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, just outside of Floresville. At this time, details are sparse, but according to local news reports, at least one shooter was seen entering the church by neighbors. Soon thereafter, a number of gunshots could be heard from inside the building. Local neighbors report the service usually has as many as 50 people in attendance.
That shooter is reportedly dead, though no word has been released as to whether the police engaged the suspect or if he chose to take his own life. Early witness reports suggested the possibility of two shooters and indicated that one may have escaped the scene, but no official word has been released by local law enforcement to confirm the validity of these claims.
Multiple law enforcement agencies have responded, with medical helicopters and multiple ambulances reportedly dispatched for what is being characterized as a “mass casualty scene.” Although no figures have been released, unofficial reports of “at least 15 wounded” have circulated, and the presence of no fewer than six medical helicopters on the scene suggests the final killed and wounded tally may continue to grow in the coming hours.
“Oh my God if you live in Sutherland Springs or Wilson County please go in side and stay safe. My family just called me freaking out because across the street from their house a guy with an assault rifle started shooting in our town church and even shot my brothers house. If ur from my hometown go inside, lock ur doors and so be safe and I love you all,” wrote a local woman on Facebook.
This is a breaking story and SOFREP will continue to provide updates as details emerge.
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