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At Least 26 Dead After Gunman Opens Fire In South Texas Church

By DAVID MONTGOMERY and CHRISTOPHER MELE

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Emergency personnel responded to a fatal shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., on Sunday.

A gunman walked into a small Baptist church in rural Texas on Sunday and opened fire with a rifle, killing at least 26 people and turning a tiny town east of San Antonio into the scene of the country’s most recent mass horror.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas confirmed the death toll, which has steadily increased throughout the day after the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. A pregnant woman and children were among the dead, and the authorities said at least 20 people were also injured.

Two law enforcement sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation, identified the gunman as Devin P. Kelley, 26.

Mr. Cuellar, 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. The gunman was found dead in his car, the authorities said.

Albert Gamez Jr., a Wilson County commissioner, said it was not clear whether he was killed by the police or he took his own life. Mr. Gamez told CNN Sutherland Springs is a small community where everyone knows one another.

He said: “You never expect something like this. My heart is broken.”

Hours after the shooting, the one-story rectangular church remained sealed off, with yellow tape posted along the church grounds. Reporters poured into Sutherland Springs throughout the day as the tragedy transformed the once-obscure Texas farming community into the scene of the latest mass killing.

The unincorporated community has a population that numbers in the low hundreds — the 2000 census was 362, according to the Texas State Historical Association. The preliminary death toll would amount to about 7 percent of the population.

The service at the church last Sunday, which was posted on YouTube, began with a rendition of a song called “Happiness Is the Lord.”

Then the pastor, Frank Pomeroy, told his parishioners — 20 to 30 were visible in the video — to walk around the room and “shake somebody’s hand.”

At least two dozen people are reported dead after a shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., near San Antonio. The gunman was found dead several miles away, officials say.

“Tell them it’s good to see them in God’s house this morning,” he said.

Videos posted online show lyrics to the hymns appearing on television screens with parishioners playing electric guitars and a sign language interpreter translating the songs.

Scott Holcombe and Sarah Slavin said their parents, Bryan and Karla Holcombe, were among the dead. Sobbing on a curb outside Connally Memorial Medical Center in Floresville, about 15 miles from Sutherland Springs, Scott Holcombe said: “I’m dumbfounded. This is unimaginable.”

He added: “My father was a good man and he loved to preach. He had a good heart. They knew where they were going. There’s peace in that.”

A parishioner, Sandy Ward, said in an interview on Sunday that a daughter-in-law and three of her grandchildren were shot. Her grandson, who is 5, was shot four times and remained in surgery as of Sunday night. She said she was awaiting word on her other family members.

Ms. Ward said she did not attend services on Sunday because of her troubled knees and a bad hip. “I just started praying for everybody who was there” when she learned of the shooting, she said.

Eight shooting victims were taken to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, the hospital said.

Joseph Silva, 49, who lives about five miles northeast of Sutherland Springs, said the police had instructed his family and neighbors to stay indoors.

In a phone interview on Sunday afternoon, he described Sutherland Springs as “a one-blinking-light town.”

“There is a gas station and a post office,” he said. “That’s about all there really is.”

Mr. Silva said he had been approached by a woman who said she had two loved ones at the church who were shot.

“There are a number of individuals just weeping and just wanted to know what’s happened to their loved ones,” he said. “Everybody is pretty grief-stricken. Everyone’s worried.”

The First Baptist Church of La Vernia, Tex., about seven miles away, wrote on Facebook that it would open its doors from 5 to 7 p.m.

“Today an unthinkable tragedy occurred in our community,” the church wrote. “There will be pastors and leaders present to pray with you or to talk, and the altar will be open for us to fall at the feet of Jesus.”

President Trump, who was in Japan on a trip to several Asian countries, offered his support.

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  • A gunman opened fire inside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs Sunday, killing and injuring multiple people, authorities said.

    Twenty-six people were killed in the shooting, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news conference Sunday night.

    The shooting suspect has been identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, CBS News has learned from federal law enforcement sources.

    Kelley is a former U.S. Air Force member who served from 2010 to 2014. He was dishonorably discharged and court martialed in May 2014, CBS News has learned.

    Federal law enforcement sources say the suspect used an AR-15 type rifle, CBS News justice and homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues reports.

    A law enforcement official confirmed that the gunman is deceased. He was shot after a car chase with police, but it’s unclear if he shot himself or if he was shot by police, CBS News’ senior investigative producer Pat Milton reports.

    “We still don’t know much about what happened, other than this guy came in around 11:15 a.m. and started shooting everybody in the church,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on CBSN.

    Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told Wilson County News earlier that a man entered the church and opened fire. He said there were multiple casualties and fatalities. CBS affiliate KENS confirmed at the scene that there have been “multiple casualties and fatalities” including children.

    The Connally Memorial Medical Center told CBS News it received multiple victims related to the shooting.

    Video from KENS showed first responders at the scene, located about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio.

    The daughter of the church’s pastor was one of the victim’s killed in the shooting, her mother Sherri Pomeroy told CBS News via text message.

    “My husband and I were ironically out of town in two different states. We lost our 14-year-old daughter today and many friends,” Pomeroy said Sunday.

    She added, “Neither of us have made it back into town yet to personally see the devastation. I am at the Charlotte airport trying to get home as soon as I can.”
    1105-cbsn-texaschurchshooting-fix.jpg
    CBS News

    Dana Fletcher, a business owner in the area, told CBS News she saw a “ton” of sheriff’s vehicles and ambulances racing down the road. She said she doesn’t know what happened but said there was heavy police presence and people were being airlifted from the scene.

    Special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said they were responding to the shooting.

    A law enforcement official said an FBI crisis response team is on scene to offer assistance to local police, CBS News’ Milton reports.

    The FBI will be offering evidence recovery, offering to check through databases to see whether this person has any connections to international terror to see if its a terrorist event or a domestic situation, Milton reports. She says officials are looking into it but they don’t know the motivation at this point.

    President Trump said on Twitter that he is monitoring the situation from Japan.

    “May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan,” Mr. Trump tweeted Sunday.

    May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan.
    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2017

    Earlier Sunday, Abbott tweeted his condolences to the shooting victims.

    “Our prayers are with all who were harmed by this evil act. Our thanks to law enforcement for their response. More details from DPS soon,” Abbott tweeted Sunday.

  • (CNN)At least 20 people have been killed in a church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, according to Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt.
    Among the dead is the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy, according to his wife, Sherri Pomeroy, the girl’s mother. The couple were traveling out of state when the shooting occurred.
    Authorities say many more were injured in the First Baptist Church attack that has devastated the small Texas town, described as a place where “everybody knows everybody.”

    The shooter was killed after a brief chase north into neighboring Guadalupe County, according to Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Robert Murphy. It is unclear if the shooter was killed by police or took his own life, Murphy said.
    The FBI is responding to the scene of the shooting, according to Michelle Lee, spokeswoman for the FBI’s San Antonio field office.

    A cashier at a gas station across the street from the church told CNN she heard about 20 shots being fired in quick succession while a church service was underway around 11:30 a.m. local time.

    Sutherland Springs is in Wilson County, about 30 miles east of San Antonio.

    Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. told CNN that multiple people were killed and numerous people were injured in Sunday’s shooting.

    “My heart is broken,” Gamez said. “We never think where it can happen, and it does happen. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. In a small community, real quiet and everything, and look at this, what can happen.”

    A law enforcement source told CNN that a man walked into the church and began shooting about 11:30 a.m. local time. Agents from the San Antonio field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are en route to the scene, the source said.

    A small community, devastated
    About 100 family members of victims have gathered inside the Sutherland Springs Community Building next to the church, waiting for news of their loved ones, 26-year-old David Flores told CNN. Local law enforcement, the FBI and the Red Cross are also at the community center.
    “My dad saw the gunman run into the church building and then he heard shots and saw people running,” Flores told CNN. “People covered in blood and screaming. It was pandemonium everywhere.”
    “Looking around, it’s very sorrowful and the pastors from all the local churches right now are just trying to console everybody,” said Flores when asked to describe the scene inside the community center.

    “There were several children injured,” he said. “I know three, personally, who are in critical condition.”
    According to the church’s website, congregants meet around 9:15 a.m. on Sundays for breakfast before Sunday school and the morning church service at 11 a.m. The sanctuary where the shooting occurred is small, with wooden pews and red carpeting.
    Last Sunday, a small praise team led the congregation in a rendition of “Happiness is the Lord,” according to a video of the service posted on the church’s Facebook page.
    Later in the service, Pastor Pomeroy read scripture from Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
    “Lean on the Lord … leaning into God is the way we should go,” he said, “because God’s got it figured out whether we do or not.”
    Photos on the church’s page show happy moments in the lives of parishioners: children playing in an inflatable castle and adults and children dressed in costumes during last week’s Fall Festival, held on Halloween.

    At least 20 people killed in shooting at Texas church

    By Dakin Andone, Kaylee Hartung and Darran Simon, CNN

    Updated 6:43 PM ET, Sun November 5, 2017
    Law enforcement officials works at the scene of a fatal shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

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    Story highlights

    The shooter is dead, according to a law enforcement spokesman
    Shooting occurred in Sutherland Springs, about 30 miles east of San Antonio

    (CNN)At least 20 people have been killed in a church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, according to Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt.
    Among the dead is the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy, according to his wife, Sherri Pomeroy, the girl’s mother. The couple were traveling out of state when the shooting occurred.
    Authorities say many more were injured in the First Baptist Church attack that has devastated the small Texas town, described as a place where “everybody knows everybody.”

    The shooter was killed after a brief chase north into neighboring Guadalupe County, according to Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Robert Murphy. It is unclear if the shooter was killed by police or took his own life, Murphy said.
    The FBI is responding to the scene of the shooting, according to Michelle Lee, spokeswoman for the FBI’s San Antonio field office.
    A cashier at a gas station across the street from the church told CNN she heard about 20 shots being fired in quick succession while a church service was underway around 11:30 a.m. local time.
    Texas church shooting: Live updates
    Texas church shooting: Live updates
    Sutherland Springs is in Wilson County, about 30 miles east of San Antonio.
    Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. told CNN that multiple people were killed and numerous people were injured in Sunday’s shooting.
    “My heart is broken,” Gamez said. “We never think where it can happen, and it does happen. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. In a small community, real quiet and everything, and look at this, what can happen.”
    Local coverage from KSAT
    A law enforcement source told CNN that a man walked into the church and began shooting about 11:30 a.m. local time. Agents from the San Antonio field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are en route to the scene, the source said.
    A woman prays with a man after the shooting.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    A woman prays with a man after the shooting.
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    Law enforcement officials stand next to a covered body at the scene.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    Law enforcement officials stand next to a covered body at the scene.
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    The shooter was killed after a brief chase north into neighboring Guadalupe County, according Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office spokesman Robert Murphy.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    The shooter was killed after a brief chase north into neighboring Guadalupe County, according Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Robert Murphy.
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    The FBI responded to the scene of the shooting, according to Michelle Lee, spokeswoman for the FBI's San Antonio field office.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    The FBI responded to the scene of the shooting, according to Michelle Lee, spokeswoman for the FBI’s San Antonio field office.
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    "My heart is broken," said Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. "We never think where it can happen, and it does happen. It doesn't matter where you're at. In a small community, real quiet and everything, and look at this, what can happen."
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    “My heart is broken,” said Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. “We never think where it can happen, and it does happen. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. In a small community, real quiet and everything, and look at this, what can happen.”
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    Emergency personnel respond to a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, November 5.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    Emergency personnel respond to a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, November 5.
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    Law enforcement officers man a barricade near the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. At least 20 people were killed in the shooting, authorities said.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    Law enforcement officers man a barricade near the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. At least 20 people were killed in the shooting, authorities said.
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    Carrie Matula embraces a woman after the shooting at the church. Matula said she heard the shooting from the gas station where she works across the street.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    Carrie Matula embraces a woman after the shooting at the church. Matula said she heard the shooting from the gas station where she works across the street.
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    Law enforcement officials work the shooting scene.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    Law enforcement officials work the shooting scene.
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    A woman prays with a man after the shooting.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    A woman prays with a man after the shooting.
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    Law enforcement officials stand next to a covered body at the scene.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    Law enforcement officials stand next to a covered body at the scene.
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    The shooter was killed after a brief chase north into neighboring Guadalupe County, according Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office spokesman Robert Murphy.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    The shooter was killed after a brief chase north into neighboring Guadalupe County, according Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Robert Murphy.
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    The FBI responded to the scene of the shooting, according to Michelle Lee, spokeswoman for the FBI's San Antonio field office.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    The FBI responded to the scene of the shooting, according to Michelle Lee, spokeswoman for the FBI’s San Antonio field office.
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    "My heart is broken," said Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. "We never think where it can happen, and it does happen. It doesn't matter where you're at. In a small community, real quiet and everything, and look at this, what can happen."
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    “My heart is broken,” said Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. “We never think where it can happen, and it does happen. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. In a small community, real quiet and everything, and look at this, what can happen.”
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    Emergency personnel respond to a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, November 5.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    Emergency personnel respond to a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, November 5.
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    Law enforcement officers man a barricade near the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. At least 20 people were killed in the shooting, authorities said.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    Law enforcement officers man a barricade near the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. At least 20 people were killed in the shooting, authorities said.
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    Carrie Matula embraces a woman after the shooting at the church. Matula said she heard the shooting from the gas station where she works across the street.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    Carrie Matula embraces a woman after the shooting at the church. Matula said she heard the shooting from the gas station where she works across the street.
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    Law enforcement officials work the shooting scene.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    Law enforcement officials work the shooting scene.
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    A woman prays with a man after the shooting.
    Photos: Sutherland Springs church shooting
    A woman prays with a man after the shooting.
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    A small community, devastated
    About 100 family members of victims have gathered inside the Sutherland Springs Community Building next to the church, waiting for news of their loved ones, 26-year-old David Flores told CNN. Local law enforcement, the FBI and the Red Cross are also at the community center.
    “My dad saw the gunman run into the church building and then he heard shots and saw people running,” Flores told CNN. “People covered in blood and screaming. It was pandemonium everywhere.”
    “Looking around, it’s very sorrowful and the pastors from all the local churches right now are just trying to console everybody,” said Flores when asked to describe the scene inside the community center.
    Local coverage from KABB
    “There were several children injured,” he said. “I know three, personally, who are in critical condition.”
    According to the church’s website, congregants meet around 9:15 a.m. on Sundays for breakfast before Sunday school and the morning church service at 11 a.m. The sanctuary where the shooting occurred is small, with wooden pews and red carpeting.
    Last Sunday, a small praise team led the congregation in a rendition of “Happiness is the Lord,” according to a video of the service posted on the church’s Facebook page.
    Later in the service, Pastor Pomeroy read scripture from Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
    “Lean on the Lord … leaning into God is the way we should go,” he said, “because God’s got it figured out whether we do or not.”
    Photos on the church’s page show happy moments in the lives of parishioners: children playing in an inflatable castle and adults and children dressed in costumes during last week’s Fall Festival, held on Halloween.

    Sutherland Springs
    There will be a vigil tonight at 7 p.m. at the Sutherland Springs post office, according to Debra Morales, a volunteer coordinating relief efforts for victims’ family members at the Immediate Family Command Center.
    “We have never had this happen before,” Morales said. “It’s all just very upsetting.”
    The Connally Memorial Medical Center in nearby Floresville, Texas, received 8 patients with gunshot wounds from the Sutherland Springs church shooting, a statement from the hospital said. Four of those patients were transferred to University Hospital in San Antonio to receive a higher level of care.
    One of those patients was in critical condition and needed to be air-lifted.
    Three patients were treated at Connally Memorial Medical Center and have been released, the statement said. One patient is in stable condition there.
    At least 8 patients are being treated at University Hospital in San Antonio, according to spokeswoman Leni Kirkman, who added the situation is still active and the hospital may receive more patients.
    A spokesman for Brooke Army Medical Center also confirmed to CNN that the facility has received patients from the shooting, but the spokesman didn’t have a specific number.
    Dana Fletcher, who owns a business down sthe road from the church, told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield that Sutherland Springs is a “very small” but “very tight-knit community.”
    “There’s two gas stations, the church, a community center, post office, a Dollar General, a tire shop,” she said. “That’s about it.”
    Officials react to the news
    “May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas,” tweeted President Donald Trump, who is in Japan on his first trip to Asia as president.

    Trump has been briefed on the shooting, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, and has spoken with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
    US Senator John Cornyn of Texas called the news “truly heartbreaking” in a tweet Sunday. “Please say a prayer for First Baptist congregation, first responders & the community there,” he said.
    “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,” said Gov. Abbott in a statement Sunday. “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 later on his Twitter page that he was on his way to meet with officials and the families of victims.

    CNN’s Sheena Jones, Alaa Elassar, Shawn Nottingham and Evan Perez contributed to this report

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