Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Man Opens Fire in Texas Church, Killing More Than 20 People

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Man Opens Fire in Texas Church, Killing More Than 20 People

Article excerpt

At least 26 dead: Ages range from 5 to 72; one is pastor's daughter, 14

Shooter dies: Ex-Air Force man in 20s had no known terrorist links

Horror, anguish: 'There are no words to describe the pure evil,' governor says


SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas * A man dressed in black tactical-style gear and armed with an assault weapon opened fire inside a church in a small South Texas town on Sunday, killing 26 people and wounding at least 16 others in what the governor called the deadliest mass shooting in the state's history. The dead ranged in age from 5 to 72.

Authorities didn't identify the attacker at a news conference Sunday night, but two other officials one a U.S. official and one in law enforcement identified him as Devin Kelley. They spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity .

The U.S. official said Kelley lived in a San Antonio suburb and didn't appear to be linked to organized terrorist groups. Investigators were looking at social media posts Kelley made in the days before Sunday's attack, including one that appeared to show an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon.

In a brief statement, the Pentagon confirmed he had served in the Air Force "at one point." Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said records showed that Kelley served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge. The date of his discharge and the circumstances under which he left the service were not immediately available.

At the news conference, the attacker was described only as a white man in his 20s who was wearing black tactical gear and a ballistic vest when he pulled into a gas station across from the First Baptist Church about 11:20 a.m.

The gunman crossed the street and started firing a Ruger AR rifle at the church, said Freeman Martin, a regional director of the Texas Department of Safety, then continued firing after entering the white wood-frame building, where a service was in progress.

As he left, he was confronted by an armed resident who chased him.

A short time later, the suspect was found dead in his vehicle at the county line, Martin said.

Several weapons were found inside the vehicle, and Martin said it was unclear if the attacker died of a self-inflicted wound or if he was shot by the resident who confronted him. He said investigators weren't ready to discuss a potential motive for the attack.

He said 23 of the dead were found dead in the church, two were found outside and one died after being taken to a hospital.

Addressing the news conference, Gov. Greg Abbott called the attack the worst mass shooting in Texas history. "There are no words to describe the pure evil that we witnessed in Sutherland Springs today," Abbott said. "Our hearts are heavy at the anguish in this small town, but in time of tragedy, we see the very best of Texas. …

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