A gunman identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, opened fire in a Texas Church leaving over two dozen church members dead which is the largest mass in the state’s history according to officials.
Twenty-six people were killed during the shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said at a news conference Sunday evening.
“We don’t know if that number will rise or not, but we know that’s too many and this will be a long, suffering mourning for those in pain,” he said.
The shooter who is a ‘young white male’ is also dead, officials said.
No one knows what reasons might have led to the Texas Church shooting, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackett said. Federal officials said that while the gunman’s motive was unclear, there were no obvious signs of a connection to terrorism
The shooter’s uncle, Dave Ivey, says she couldn’t believe his nephew, Devin, could be capable of such and is really sorry for the victims in Texas because of Devin’s cowardly actions.
Devin Patrick Kelley first began firing outside the church at around 11:20 a.m. local time (12:20 p.m. ET) before he continued his shooting spree inside, said Freeman Martin, a regional director with the Texas Department of Public Safety. He was armed with a “Ruger AR assault-type rifle,” Martin said.
“We know the ages range from 5 years old to 72 years of age,” Martin said of the victims.
A local resident confronted the gunman after the shooting began, “grabbed his rifle and engaged that suspect,” Martin said.
The gunman dropped the rifle and then fled with the resident in pursuit, he said.
As law enforcement responded, the suspect ran off the road in his car at the Wilson-Guadalupe county line and crashed, Martin said. The suspect was found dead in the vehicle.
“We don’t know if this was a self-inflicted gunshot wound or if he was shot by our local resident who engaged him with gunfire,” he added.
Police found multiple weapons inside the vehicle, he said.
Sherri Pomeroy, the wife of church pastor Frank Pomeroy, told NBC News in a statement that their 14-year-old daughter was among the victims. She said she and her husband were out of town in different states at the time of the shooting.
“We lost our 14-year-old daughter today and many friends,” she said. “Neither of us have made it back into town yet to personally see the devastation.”
Another distraught victim’s relative, Sandy Ward, told MSNBC that four of her grandchildren and her daughter-in-law were inside the church. The youngest child, a 5-year-old, was in surgery, and her 7-year-old granddaughter died.
Ward was waiting with her son at a hospital for answers.She is in total shock and numb.
Former President Barack Obama shared his condolences over Twitter.
“We grieve with all the families in Sutherland Springs harmed by this act of hatred, and we’ll stand with the survivors as they recover,” Obama tweeted. “May God also grant all of us the wisdom to ask what concrete steps we can take to reduce the violence and weaponry in our midst.”
May the souls of the victims in the Texas Church shooting rest in peace and the Lord give the families the fortitude to bear these losses.