At least 26 dead in Texas church shooting
Police say gunman shot himself following chase by local residents
At least 26 people have died after a lone gunman entered a church in Texas and opened fire.
The shooter was identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley. He was chased by two men in a truck after launching the attack at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs during the Sunday morning service, but police believe Kelley died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, reports CBS News.
Kelley's ex-wife and former in-laws sometimes attended services at the church, but they were not there during the attack, police said.
“We don’t think he had any connection to this church,” Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told local media. “We have no motive.”
Officials say the ages of the victims range from five to 72 years old and that the 14-year-old daughter of the First Baptist Church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy, was among those killed.
Kelley was discharged from the US air force for allegedly assaulting his spouse and child, an air force spokeswoman told the Associated Press. He served 12 months’ confinement after a 2012 court martial, and received a bad conduct discharge and reduction in rank.
On Sunday morning, officials say Kelley was dressed in black clothing and a “tactical vest”, and was armed with a Ruger military-style rifle.
Witnesses say he approached the First Baptist Church shortly after 11am local time, and began shooting outside the building before moving around to the right-hand side of the building. Kelley then reportedly entered the church and opened fire on those inside, before exiting the building.
“When Kelley emerged from the church, an armed neighbour exchanged gunfire with him, hitting Kelley, who fled in his vehicle. Neighbours apparently followed him, chasing him into the next county, Guadalupe County, where Kelley crashed his car,” says The New York Times.
Kelley was found dead in his vehicle, which contained a cache of weapons.
“We are dealing with the largest mass shooting in our state’s history,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said. “The tragedy, of course, is worsened by the fact that it occurred in a church, a place of worship where these people were innocently gunned down.”