At least 26 people were killed and 20 other wounded after an armed assailant opened fire at a Baptist church in the US state of Texas on Sunday. The incident took place at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, a small community about 50 kilometers southeast of San Antonio.
The gunman reportedly walked into the church shortly before noon — at a morning service that witnesses said was normally attended by around 50 people — and opened fire. According to officials a civilian with a gun confronted the attacker and chased him away. The shooter was later found dead in his car along with several weapons. While there in no official word on who the shooter was, two officials speaking on the condition of anonymity to The Associated Press identified him as Devid Kelly. The motive of the attack has not been determined yet.
US President Doinald Trump called the shooting an “an act of evil” and denounced the violence in “a place of sacred worship” and pledged the full support of the federal government. He said that in a time of grief, “Americans will do what we do best: we pull together and join hands and lock arms and through the tears and sadness we stand strong.”
See in pictures: Ghastly Texas attack
Texas shooting highlights:
03.30 pm: Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent his condolences to US President Donald Trump over the fatal shooting, RIA news agency reported, citing the Kremlin.
2.30 pm: In case you are just joining us, here is a quick recap of all that happened in Texas. A gunman opened fire in a Baptist church in Texas, killing at least 26 people and injuring 20 others. While there is no official confirmation on the identity of the shooter, US media reports have identified him as a former Air Force member Devid Kelly. The shooter was founded dead in his car and the motive of the attack is still not clear.
12:00 pm: President Trump calls Texas church shooting a “mental health problem at the highest level,’ and not a “gun situation”. He also said that the gunman is “deranged.” “We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries. But this isn’t a guns situation,” he said. “Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction. “This is a mental health problem at the highest level,” he said. “It’s a very, very sad event.”
11.07 am: Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt Jr. said Sunday night that the shooter fired several shots outside before entering the Sutherland Springs church and walking toward the front of the congregation. Tackitt says the gunman then turned around and opened fire on his way back out the front door. Tackitt says “I don’t think they could have escaped. You’ve got your pews on either side.”
11.00 am: The man who purused the shooter said that he was acting on instinct to try to prevent the gunman from escaping. In an interview with KSAT television, the man dentifed as Johnnie Langendorff said that he was driving past the church when he saw the attacker exchange fire with a member of the community.
He said that the member of the coomunity asked for help and got into his truck. He added that the attacker eventually lost control of his vehicle and crashed. When the member of the community approached the vehicle with his gun drawn, but the suspect did not move. Langendorff says: “I was strictly just acting on what’s the right thing to do,” according to a report in AP
10.00 am: “We wouldn’t believe that something like this would happen here,” Paul Buford, pastor of River Oaks Church, the other house of worship in Sutherland Springs, told reporters. “We are holding up as well as we can. We are a strong community. We are strong in our faith and strong in believing that anyone that was killed in the church there is present with our Lord,” he said.
9.20 am: President Donald Trump has ordered that US flags at the White House, all public buildings and grounds, and military posts be flown at half-staff to honor those killed in the mass shooting at a Texas church.
8.54 am: Condeming the attack, former US President Barack Obama said, “We grieve with all the families in Sutherland Springs harmed by this act of hatred. We’ll stand with the survivors as they recover. May God also grant all of us the wisdom to ask what concrete steps we can take to reduce the violence and weaponry in our midst.”
8.45 am: An Air Force official says the suspect was was court-martialed in 2012 on one count of assault on his spouse and another count of assault on their child. He was discharged two years later, reports AP.
8.42 am: The wife of the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs says the couple’s 14-year-old daughter was among those killed in a mass shooting at the church.
8.30 am: In a statement, Tom Vinger of the Texas Department of Public Safety said, “The shooter was later found deceased in his vehicle in Guadalupe County. The exact circumstances of the gunman’s death are still under investigation. The wounded individuals were transported to San Antonio Medical Center and University Hospital in San Antonio.”
8.09 am: Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also offered his condolences, saying on Twitter: “I offer my deepest condolences for those who lost their lives in the incident that occurred in the U.S. state of Texas.” He added: “My thoughts are with those who suffered injuries in the incident.”
7.50 am: The official said investigators are also looking at the posts made by the suspect on social media, including one that appeared to show an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon, reported AP.
In Japan, Donald Trump speaks about the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas pic.twitter.com/cVq0XpJoP8
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) November 6, 2017
7.39 am: People who live near the residence of the shooting suspect say that they heard intense gunfire from that direction in recent days. Sixteen-year-old Ryan Albers lives across the road from the alleged gunman said, “It’s really loud. At first I thought someone was blasting. It was someone using automatic weapon fire.”
7.25 am: Texas Governor Greg Abbott calls the attack as the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history
7.20 am: A US military official says the suspect identified in the mass shooting at a Texas church was a former Air Force member who was stationed in New Mexico at one time.
7.00 am: The shooting comes just over a month after a gunman in Las Vegas, firing down from a hotel room, killed 58 people and wounded hundreds attending an outdoor concert. And it came just over two years after a white supremacist, Dylann Roof, entered a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, and shot nine people to death.
(With inputs from agencies)