As the worst shooting in the history of modern US, which happened in Las Vegas leaving 64 people dead and at least 500 wounded remains fresh in our memories, a similar incidence has been reported in a church in Texas. A gunman armed with an assault rifle opened fire on a small-town Texas church during Sunday morning services, killing 26 people and wounding 20 in the last mass shooting to shock the United States.
Authorities are yet to identify the gunman, only saying that he was a “young white male, maybe in his early 20s,” who was wearing a bulletproof vest and found dead in his vehicle after being confronted by a local resident. Governor Greg Abbott however warned the toll may rise.
“There are 26 lives that have been lost. We don’t know if that number will rise or not, all we know is that’s too many, and this will be a long, suffering mourning for those in pain,” he said.
The victims, who ranged in age from five to 72, were gunned down at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, a rural community of about 400 people located 30 miles (50 kilometers) southeast of San Antonio. The gunman fired outside at the church before entering the building and continuing to spray bullets, said Freeman Martin, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“As he exited the church, a local resident grabbed his rifle and engaged the suspect. The suspect dropped his rifle, which was a Ruger AR assault-type rifle, and fled from the church. Our local citizen pursued the suspect at that time,” Martin said.
Law enforcement later found the gunman dead in his car, which had crashed, on the Wilson-Guadalupe county line. It was not clear if he had committed suicide or was shot by the resident who had confronted him.
US media outlets had identified the shooter as a 26-year-old veteran who had faced a court-martial and was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force.
“There’s so many families who have lost family members. Fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters,” 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. We mourn their loss, but we support their family members.”
The wounded had been transported to various hospitals with “injuries that vary from minor to very severe,” Martin said.
The dead included the 14-year-old daughter of pastor Frank Pomeroy, the church leader told ABC News. Annabelle Renee Pomeroy “was one very beautiful, special child,” her father said.