Mass Shooting in Sutherland Springs, TX
Nov. 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a mass shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs occurred, taking 26 lives, and leaving 20 injured. Texas governor, Greg Abbott, called this the worst mass shooting in state history.
Church service started at 11:00 a.m. and by 11:20 a.m. a man, later identified as the shooter, dressed in all black was spotted at a Valero gas station across the street from First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.
At 11:30 a.m., the gunman proceeded to exit his vehicle and fired his gun at the front of the church. He then entered the church through the side and began to fire during the church service.
As the gunman was leaving the church, an armed local resident who heard the gunshots confronted the shooter.
According to Freeman Martin of the Texas Department of Public Safety, there was an exchange of gunfire and the gunman dropped his gun and drove away in a Ford Explorer.
The resident, identified as Stephen Wilford, then stopped a passing car and pursued the shooter in a high speed chase. When authorities found the shooter, later identified as 26-year old Devin Patrick Kelly, he was in a neighboring county deceased in his vehicle from gunshot wounds.
Texas authorities stated that they don’t believe this was racially motivated. They believe this was a part of an “ongoing domestic dispute.”
In a press conference on Nov. 6, 2017, Wilson County Sheriff, Joe D Tackitt Jr., stated, “Kelly’s in-laws attended the church but were not present Sunday, but came to the scene after the shooting.”
Kelly was a former member of the Air Force and in 2012, the courts sentenced him to a year in military prison for assaulting his spouse and child. He was later reduced in rank, and was later released from the Air Force due to bad conduct in 2014.
According to authorities, Kelly sought and failed to obtain a permit allowing him to carry a concealed weapon, however after his conviction of assault, the Air Force did not enter his conviction into the federal database for the National Criminal Information Center. CNN reported that in April of 2016, Kelly purchased one of the rifles that was used in the shooting from Academy Sports + Outdoors store in San Antonio, Texas.
When he filled out the background check information, he checked the box indicating he did not have any disqualifying criminal history, an official said.
The victims ages range from an alarming 18 months to 77 years of age. The casualties included eight relatives that spanned through three family generations, including an eight month unborn child.
Of the 20 victims injured, six are in stable condition or have been released, four are in serious condition, and ten are in critical condition; out of 26 lives lost 12 to 14 of them were children.
Governor Abbott said the state would mourn the dead and support their families.
“As governor, I ask for every mom and dad at home tonight, that you put your arm around your kid and give your kid a big hug, and let them know how much you love them,” said Abbott at a televised press conference on Sunday evening.
Support the families of Sutherland Springs by donating to the respective Go-Fund me pages; Church shooting: Holcombe Family, the Ward family Sutherland Springs Mom & Children, and the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs website.