26 killed in deadliest mass shooting in Texas history: governor

Gunman is said to be a young male in his early 20s

A gunman who opened fire at a small Texas church on Sunday has killed 26 people and wounded at least 20.

No name has been released and no motive identified for the gunman who was either killed or killed himself following the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.

“We believe he’s a young white male, maybe in his early 20s, dressed in all black tactical type gear,” said Texas Department of Public Safety regional director Freeman Martin.

“He was wearing a ballistic vest.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbot confirmed the number of dead and said he had already spoken to President Donald Trump and both of Texas’ senators.

“We are dealing with the largest mass shooting in our state’s history,” he said during a press conference Sunday afternoon.

The governor said his thoughts and prayers were with the victims and that “the details of this horrific act are still under investigation.”

Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt Jr. thanked the public for their outpouring of support.

“We don’t have any names of any of the victims,” he said. “We’re still trying to work the crime scene.”

Martin said that the shooter was first spotted at a gas station across the street from the church at 11 a.m. local time (9 a.m. PST). This was confirmed after the shooting took place, not before, authorities noted.

He then crossed the street to the church, exited his vehicle and began firing at the church from the outside before entering the building as he continued to shoot.

“As he exited the church, a local resident grabbed his rifle and engaged the suspect,” said Martin.

“The suspect dropped his rifle – which was an… AR assault-type rifle – and fled from the church.”

The local resident followed the suspect as he got into his car and drove off before veering off the road.

The suspect was found dead in his vehicle, although law enforcement could not confirm how he died.

The shooting, which took place at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, is the second mass shooting in the U.S. in less than two months. On Oct. 1, Stephen Paddock opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500.

The community of Sutherland Springs, where the population numbers in the hundreds, is a small unincorporated area in Wilson County approximately 30 miles southeast of San Antonio.

The wounded were taken to hospitals. Video on KSAT television showed first responders taking a stretcher from the church to a waiting AirLife helicopter. Some victims were taken by medical helicopter to the Brooke Army Medical Center, the station said.

Megan Posey, a spokeswoman for Connally Memorial Medical Center, which is in Floresville and about 10 miles from the church, said “multiple” victims were being treated for gunshot wounds. She declined to give a specific number but said it was less than a dozen.

A woman who lives about 10 minutes away from Sutherland Springs in Floresville and was monitoring the chaos on a police scanner and in Facebook community groups, said that everyone knows everyone in the sparsely populated county.

“This is horrific for our tiny little tight-knit town,” said Alena Berlanga. “Everybody’s going to be affected and everybody knows someone who’s affected,” she said.

President Trump, currently in Japan, tweeted to say that the FBI was investigating the shooting.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also offered his thoughts and prayers, adding that “my office stands ready to assist local law enforcement as needed.”

Condolences are pouring in on the church’s Facebook page:

– with files from The Canadian Press


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Shooting

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File Photo
Planned power outage in Port Alice Oct. 27

BC Hydro crews to work from midnight to 4 a.m. replacing substation equipment

Sails down, masks up for Ron and Sherry Pryde, who completed a 119 day journey that was supposed to be 70 days. (Zoe Ducklow)
Coast Guard towed rudderless sailors to Port Hardy hours before a powerful storm

Rudderless for a month, the couple zigzagged most the way home with “a few donuts and lazy-eights”

Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce logo
COMMENTARY: Our money should be spent right here at home in the North Island region

‘By purchasing from local businesses, we are casting our vote for the kind of community we want’

Black Press file photo
Small rise in crime in Port Alice with 85 files opened in third quarter

Port Alice RCMP announced third quarter crime stats

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Squirrels recovering from tail amputation after sap situation near Victoria

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

Jordan Jay Ward is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for two counts of manslaughter. Photo supplied
Wanted man from Calgary may be on Vancouver Island

Jordan Jay Ward is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for two counts of manslaughter

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A Pictograph panel found near Tlowitsis traditional territory near Kalogwis is attached in the archaeological report produced by the First Nation’s guardian watchmen.
Tlowitsis First Nation records 370 archaeological sites on traditional territories across B.C.

The Nation’s guardian watchmen mapped sites for research and to protect them from human disturbances

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall advisory for parts of Vancouver Island for Thursday and Friday.(File photo)
Snowfall expected in parts of Vancouver Island this week

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall advisory for north, east and inland Vancouver Island

Most Read