'We ask for God's comfort': 26 dead in church shooting, Gov. Abbott says

At least 26 people were killed in a shooting that took place inside of a Wilson County church during Sunday service, just 40 miles southeast of San Antonio.

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - At least 26 people were killed in a shooting that took place inside of a Wilson County church during Sunday service, just 40 miles southeast of San Antonio.

The shooting happened at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. An additional 20 people were wounded.

The youngest victim was 5 years old and the oldest was 72. 

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A DPS official said at a news conference that 23 people died in the church, while two others died outside the church and one more died at the hospital.

The shooter has been identified as Devin Kelley of New Braunfels, the Associated Press reported. The Pentagon says Kelley was an airman in the Air Force "at one point." 

"We are dealing with the largest mass shooting in our state's history," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said. "There are so many families that have lost family members. The tragedy is worsened that it happened in a church, a place of worship."

"We mourn their loss, but we support their family members."

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Sherri Pomeroy, the wife of First Baptist Pastor Frank Pomeroy, told the Associated Press in a text message that their 14-year-old daughter was one of the victims.

Witnesses said the gunman only fled the scene after a local resident started shooting back at him. The man had grabbed his rifle and engaged the suspect as he exited the church.

The gunman fled in a vehicle after the shooting and was also killed, either by a self-inflicted wound or after being shot by a local resident who engaged him in gunfire, said the official who was briefed on the investigation.

"We appreciate the first responders," Abbott said. "They are continuing in their efforts as they put the pieces of this puzzle together."

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Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt said the gunman walked into First Baptist Church and began firing during a Sunday service.

University Hospital in San Antonio has nine patients seeking care, KENS has confirmed.

A reporter arrived on the scene around 12 p.m. and witnessed tarps covering bodies, along with a very heavy police presence outside of the church. Federal law enforcement swarmed the scene to offer assistance, including ATF investigators and members of the FBI's evidence collection team.

"We ask for God's comfort and guidance and healing for all of those who are suffering," Abbott said. "I ask that every mom and dad put your arm around your kid tonight and let them know how much you love them.

Tell your friends and neighbors that you support them and will work with them."

President Donald Trump tweeted from Japan that he is monitoring the situation. Trump tweeted: "May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas."

 

 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the shooting an "evil act." Abbott tweeted: "Our prayers are with all who were harmed by this evil act." He said he is on his way to Sutherland Springs to meet with families, local, state and federal officials.

FULL PRESS SUTHERLAND SPRINGS PRESS CONFERENCE:

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Contributing Associated Press & John Bacon, USA Today

This is a developing story. REFRESH this screen for updates

© 2017 KENS-TV


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