26 dead in mass shooting at Texas church; Comal County resident named as gunman

11:30 p.m. update: The Associated Press is reporting that Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt Jr. said parishioners had “no way” to escape once the shootings began inside a Sutherland Springs Baptist church on Sunday. 

“I don’t think they could have escaped. You’ve got your pews on either side,” Tackitt told the Associated Press.

According to Tackitt, the  shooter fired several shots outside the church before entering and walking toward the front of the congregation. He said the gunman then turned around and opened fire on his way back out the front door.

The sheriff didn’t name the shooter, but multiple outlets have identified the gunman as Devin Kelley. 

10 p.m. update: The man identified as the shooter who opened fire on a Baptist church, killing 26, was discharged from the U.S. Air Force for bad conduct, officials told the Associated Press. 

Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, was dishonorably discharged in 2014 for bad conduct, after serving four years in logistics readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, an Air Force spokeswoman said. In 2012, he was court-martialed on one count of assault on his spouse and another count of assault on their child, the spokeswoman said. He received a bad conduct discharge, reduction in rank and 12 months confinement, she said.

Kelley is  the man identified by officials to The Associated Press as the gunman.

On Sunday night, several law enforcement officers were posted outside his listed address in Comal County. Neighbors said they have heard repeated gunfire from the property in recent weeks. 

Kelley was found dead Sunday, officials said. An armed resident confronted the gunman outside the church, after which he fled and was later found shot in his car, authorities said. State troopers said at a news conference they did not know whether Kelley died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound or was shot by the armed resident.

8 p.m. update: Law enforcement officers on Sunday night were posted outside the rural Comal County home of Devin Patrick Kelley, who has been identified in news reports as the gunman in the mass shooting that left 26 dead at a Baptist church.

Authorities have not identified the shooter, but multiple media outlets have reported that Kelley, a former Air Force member, was the gunman, based on law enforcement sources.

PHOTOS: The latest from the scene

Texas Rangers and sheriff’s deputies crowded outside the home on Sunday evening. Two neighbors told the American-Statesman they have heard gunfire coming from the nearly 12-acre property near New Braunfels this week. New Braunfels is about 50 miles from Sutherland Springs, site of the church shooting.

Elton Oetken, 86, said it sounded like a shotgun, which he heard about six times recently.

“Those people seemed to like to shoot, I swear,” he said. “What were they shooting at? I have no earthly idea.”

For our full coverage of Sunday’s shooting, see our in-depth news site MyStatesman.com

On Sunday evening, President Donald Trump offered his condolences to the victims of what is now being called the deadliest mass shooting in modern Texas history.

“Through the tears and through the sadness, we stand strong,” Trump said. “All of America is praying to God to help the wounded and the families of the victims. We will never, ever leave their side.”

Several law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and ATF, are assisting the Wilson County sheriff’s office into the investigation. They did not release a motive for the shooting and are working to identify the dead and notify the next of kin.

“My administration will provide its full support to the great state of Texas and all local authorities investigating this horrible crime,” Trump said. “We offer our thanks to the first responders, the FBI, all of the many people involved both federal and otherwise. Ultimately, they stopped the suspect, then rendered life-saving aide to certain victims of the shooting. I will continue to follow the developments closely.”

VIDEO: A Texas town in shock

6 p.m. update: Twenty-six people are confirmed dead in what is now being called the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history, after a gunman opened fire at a Baptist church Sunday afternoon.

“There are so many families who have lost family members, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a press conference Sunday. “The tragedy is worsened by the fact that it occurred in a church, a place of worship. We mourn their loss but we support their family members.”

At least 20 others were injured in the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs outside San Antonio, Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Commander Freeman Martin said. They range in age from 5 to 72 years and are being treated at several San Antonio area hospitals for minor and critical injuries, Freeman said.

According to authorities, around 11:20 a.m. Sunday a man was seen lingering outside a gas station across from the Baptist church dressed in all black. Armed with a Ruger assault rifle, he crossed the street and began firing into the church, then entered the church, Freeman said. 

A resident who was carrying a gun attempted to stop him outside the church, authorities said. The shooter dropped his weapon and fled and was later found dead in his vehicle in a ditch on the Wilson-Guadalupe county line, Freeman said. It is not clear whether he died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound or was killed by the resident who confronted him, Freeman said.

Authorities did not identify the shooter at Sunday’s press conference, however NBC News identified him Sunday as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley of Comal County.

The American Red Cross has set up a family assistance center in Wilson County to help the families affected by the shooting. Authorities declined to identify any of those killed until next of kin are notified.

“We are still trying to work the crime scene,” Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt said. “We need your support. We sincerely feel sorry for all of the people that are involved.”

The FBI, ATF and Texas Rangers are assisting the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies with the investigation.

“They are continuing in their efforts as they put all the pieces of a complex puzzle together,” Abbott said. “We ask for God’s comfort, for God’s guidance and for God’s healing for all those who are suffering. For every Mom and Dad at home tonight, put your arm around your kid and give your kid a big hug and let them know how much you love them.”


Officials are reporting more than 20 people are dead after a gunman opened fire inside a church during Sunday service.

Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez said in a TV news interview that 20 or more people could have been killed and more than 20 wounded. The shooter is dead, the commissioner said.

The gunman was dressed in full combat gear when he walked into the First Baptist Church about 11:30 a.m.

A neighbor told the American-Statesman he heard over 100 shots.

David Ricks has lived across the street from the church for the past three months.

He was cooking breakfast around 11:30 a.m., he said, when he heard a hail of gunfire.

He walked to his front door and “saw some people running through the field toward the Valero,” he said.

The San Antonio Express-News, quoting a law enforcement official, says 28 are dead.

First Baptist Church Pastor Frank Pomeroy told ABC news that his 14-year-old daughter is among those killed.

Pomeroy and his wife were out of town at the time of the attack.

RELATED: What people are saying about the Sutherland Springs church shooting

According to CNN, the shooter died after a short pursuit by police into neighboring Guadalupe County. It is not known if he was shot by police or took his own life.

“Our prayers are with all who were harmed by this evil act,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. “Our thanks to law enforcement for their response.”

The FBI has joined first responders at the scene.

Wilson County Sheriff’s officials say they will soon update the media on the number of casualties.

“We’re saddened and shocked,” said Carrie Matula, who was inside the church during the shooting. “We do know some of the people who were killed.

"We have an idea of who did this. We don’t know why. It’s a small town. It’s going around the rumor mill pretty quick.”

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Outside the church, a number of family members arrived throughout Sunday afternoon looking for information about loved ones.

Regina Rodriguez huddled with family members as they cried and hugged. She said she received a call shortly after noon about the shooting, and that her father, Richard Rodriguez, faithfully attends church each Sunday.

“I’ve been calling him and he doesn’t answer,” she said. 

Asked what was going through her mind, she responded, “I just lost my father.”

The church has posted videos of its Sunday services on a YouTube channel, raising the possibility that the shooting was captured on video, the AP reported.

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

In interview on MSNBC, church member Sandy Ward said her daughter-in-law and four grandchildren were in the church today. She said her 7-year-old granddaughter is not going to make it. Her grandson was shot four times and is undergoing surgery. 

Staff writer Omar Gallaga contributed to this report.

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