SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas — Authorities say a gunman armed with an assault rifle opened fire inside a small South Texas church, killing 26 people who ranged in age from 5 to 72. The suspect is also dead.
The mass shooting occurred Sunday morning at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio. About 20 others were wounded in the attack.
Two officials who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity identified the gunman as Devin Kelley. An Air Force spokeswoman said records confirm Kelley received a bad conduct discharge after being court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his spouse and child.
Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. described the scene inside the church as “terrible.” Investigators have not yet determined a motive for the attack.
Tragedy at church
The attack began at about 11:20 a.m., Sunday after a suspect was seen at a Valero gas station in Sutherland Springs, dressed in all black, the Department of Public Safety said. The suspect crossed the street to the church, got out of his vehicle and began firing at the church, authorities said.
The suspect then moved to the right side of the church and continued to fire, before entering the church and shooting more, authorities said.
As the suspect exited the church, a local resident grabbed his rifle and engaged the suspect, after which he dropped his assault-type rifle and fled, authorities said.
A citizen pursued the suspect, authorities said.
The suspect, who fled in a car, crashed and was later found dead in his vehicle in Guadalupe County, according to the sheriff and the Department of Public Safety. It’s unclear whether he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound or whether he was shot by another person, officials said at a news conference this afternoon at Stockdale City Hall, near the church.
Multiple weapons were found in the vehicle, authorities said, adding that the suspect had tactical-type gear and was wearing a ballistic vest.
The threat is believed to be over, Wilson County District Attorney Audrey Gossett said.
Authorities did not discuss a motive at a Sunday afternoon news conference.