• 21:14
  • 25.05.2020
Gunman kills 26 in Texas church

Gunman kills 26 in Texas church

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A gunman with an assault rifle has stormed a church in rural Texas, killing at least 26 worshippers and wounding 20 others in a rampage to be notched into a litany of mass shootings that have plagued the US in recent years.
The lone suspect, dressed in black tactical gear and a ballistic vest, drove up to the white-steepled First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs during Sunday morning services and started firing inside.
He kept shooting once he entered, killing or wounding victims ranging in age from 5 to 72 years old, law enforcement officials told a news conference.
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Among the dead was the 14-year-old daughter of Pastor Frank Pomeroy, the family told several television stations.
The gunman was later found dead, apparently of a gunshot wound, after he fled the scene.
"We are dealing with the largest mass shooting in our state's history," Texas Governor Greg Abbott said at the news conference. "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."
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The massacre appeared to shake the close-knit community to its core. About 65 km east of San Antonio in Wilson County, Sutherland Springs has fewer than 400 residents.
After leaving the church, the gunman was fired on by a local resident with a rifle. The suspect dropped his Ruger assault weapon and fled in his vehicle, said Freeman Martin, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Soon afterward, the suspect crashed the vehicle near the border of a neighbouring county and was found dead inside with a cache of weapons. It was not immediately clear if he killed himself or was hit when the resident fired at him outside the church, authorities said.
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The suspect's identity was not disclosed by authorities, but law enforcement officials said he was Devin Patrick Kelley, described as a white, 26-year-old man, the New York Times and other media reported.
Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told CNN there was no immediate motive for the crime.
The massacre comes just weeks after a sniper killed 58 people at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas.
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The shootings have stirred a years-long national debate over whether easy access to firearms is contributing to the trend.
In rural areas like Sutherland Springs, gun ownership is a part of life and the state's Republican leaders have argued that more firearms makes the state safer.
"This act of evil occurred as the victims and their families were in their place of sacred worship," President Donald Trump said in Tokyo. "Through the tears and through the sadness we stand strong, oh so strong."
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While authorities provided little information about the suspect, online records show that a man named Devon Patrick Kelley lived in New Braunfels, Texas, about 56 km north of Sutherland Springs.
The US Air Force said Kelley served in its Logistics Readiness unit at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge.
Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 on charges of assaulting his wife and child, and given a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for 12 months and a reduction in rank, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said.
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Kelley's Facebook page has been deleted, but cached photos show a profile picture where he appeared with two small children. He also posted a photo of what appeared to be an assault rifle, writing a post that read: "She's a bad bitch."

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