At least 26 people were shot and killed Sunday when a 26-year-old gunman opened fire at a Baptist church in a small town near San Antonio, Texas.
Law enforcement officials are working at the scene of the shooting, but county commissioners have been told that more than 20 people were killed at the First Baptist Church on Sunday, County Commissioner Ernest “Skip” Hajek said in a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times.
The attack is the largest mass shooting in Texas, and one of the deadliest shootings in modern American history.
Sheriff Joe Tackitt told local media that the shooter, identified by another law enforcement source as Devin P. Kelley, 26, a resident of Comal County, Tex., was killed.
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“The details of this horrific act are still under investigation,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement before he headed to join local, state and federal officials at the scene. “I want to thank law enforcement for their response and ask that all Texans pray for the Sutherland Springs community during this time of mourning and loss.”
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) said the dead included a pregnant woman and children, based on the congressman’s briefing with local law enforcement authorities.
Both Cuellar and a law enforcement source identified Kelley as the gunman.
“He went there, he walked in, started shooting people and then took off” in a vehicle to adjacent Guadalupe County, Cuellar said through his spokesman, Rafael Benavides.
The dead included the daughter of the church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy, who was in Oklahoma when the shooting happened. Annabelle Renee Pomeroy was “was one very beautiful, special child,” Pomeroy told ABC News, adding that the dead were all close friends of his.
At least 10 victims, including four children, were being treated at the University Health System in nearby San Antonio, the hospital said in a tweet.
Four members of one family were injured. Joann Ward and her three children, were hurt, according to a family friend, Gracie Crews, of nearby Stockfield, Texas, who was at the hospital with the family.
Ward was unconscious when officials responded to the scene, and two of the children had to be flown by helicopter to a local hospital, Crews said in a telephone interview. Crews estimated the children were between the ages of 5 and 8, and said that Saturday was Ward and her husband’s anniversary.
“We got a call once we heard everything that went down. We rushed to the hospital immediately,” Crews said.
Other community members also hurried to help as news of the shooting spread by telephone, social media, “everything,” she said. “The community really rushed out.”
Eight patients with gunshot wounds were taken to Connally Memorial Medical Center in Floresville, according to spokeswoman Megan Posey. Four of the eight patients, including one in critical condition, were subsequently transferred to University Hospital, a major trauma center in San Antonio. Three were discharged and one remained in stable condition.
Sutherland Springs is about 35 miles southeast of San Antonio.