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South Texas church shooting: the latest

Several dead in Texas Church shooting

A Texas sheriff says several people were killed on Sunday when a man walked into a church and started shooting.
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A Texas sheriff says several people were killed on Sunday when a man walked into a church and started shooting.

7:15 p.m. President Donald Trump has promised his administration’s full support to the investigation of a Texas church shooting that left 26 dead and about 20 wounded.

Speaking to U.S. and Japanese business leaders in Tokyo Monday morning during his Asian trip, Trump highlighted that this “act of evil” at a place of sacred worship.

Trump says: “Our hearts are broken but in dark times – and these are dark times – such as these, Americans do what they do best.” He says Americans will pull together to help those suffering.

Trump says he will continue monitoring the investigation during his 11-day tour.

Meanwhile, more than 100 people gathered after dark on a grassy street corner within sight of the church where the shooting occurred for a prayer vigil.

Attendees, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, lit candles while some wept and others hugged Sunday night. They could see the church sign lit up and emergency lights flashing.

The vigil across the street from a gas station convenience store where law enforcement officials say the shooter stopped before the attack.

Mike Gonzales, who does not attend the church but lives near says: “The people of this church are wonderful people.” Gonzales added, “We’re coming together to pray for them and show the world that now, in the midst of darkness, there is light.”

7:06 p.m. The Pentagon has confirmed the suspect identified in the mass shooting at a Texas church previously served in the Air Force.

In a brief statement, the Pentagon says Devin Kelley was an airman “at one point,” but additional details about his time in the Air Force were not immediately available.

Two sheriff’s vans were parked outside and police officers stood at the gate of a cattle fence surrounding the address listed for Kelly.

Officials from the Comal County Sherriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers declined to comment Sunday evening, or to say if they had raided his home. A few minutes later, the gate opened and two Texas Rangers trucks pulled out.

The home is in a wooded area on the rural, western outskirts of New Braunfels, north of San Antonio. It is off a two-lane highway.

6:17 p.m. In a news conference in nearby Stockdale, authorities said Sunday afternoon the suspect was seen at a Valero at 11:20 a.m. Sunday, dressed in black and wearing a ballistic vest, then he walked across the street to the church.

At that point, the shooter opened fire at the church with an assault rifle. He entered the church and continued shooting.

Twenty-three church members were found dead in the building and two were killed outside. One church member died at a local hospital.

A resident armed with a weapon confronted the suspect and shot at him when the suspect walked out of the building, authorities said.

The suspect got into a car and drove off, but he crashed near the Wilson and Guadalupe county lines.

Texas Department of Public Safety regional director Freeman Martin said they had not determined if the suspect shot himself or he was fatally shot by the resident.

6 p.m. A man opened fire inside of a church in a small South Texas community on Sunday, killing 26 people and wounding about 20 others in the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history, the governor said.

Officials didn’t identify the attacker during a news conference Sunday night, but two other officials – one a U.S. official and one in law enforcement – who were briefed on the investigation identified him as Devin Kelley. They spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation.

A Department of Public Safety official said at the news conference that investigators weren’t ready to discuss a possible motive for the attack. He said the dead ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old. Twenty-three were found dead in the church, two were found outside and one died after being taken to a hospital.

4:32 p.m. 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.

Sherri Pomeroy, wife of Pastor Frank Pomeroy, said in a text message that she lost her daughter “and many friends” in the Sunday shooting. The text came in response to an interview request sent by The Associated Press to a phone number linked in online records to Frank Pomeroy.

Sherri Pomeroy says both she and her husband were out of town and trying to get back to Sutherland Springs, outside of San Antonio.

3:55 p.m. Federal law enforcement swarmed the small community 30 miles southeast of San Antonio after the attack to offer assistance, including ATF investigators and members of the FBI’s evidence collection team.

A woman who lives about 10 minutes away from Sutherland Springs in Floresville and was monitoring the chaos on a police scanner and in Facebook community groups, said that everyone knows everyone in the sparsely populated county.

“This is horrific for our tiny little tight-knit town,” said Alena Berlanga. “Everybody’s going to be affected and everybody knows someone who’s affected,” she said.

Latest update: 6 p.m. on Tuesday. This is a developing story. As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, at least 26 people are dead after a gunman Devin Kelley opened fire on First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Check back for more updates as the story

President Donald Trump tweeted from Japan, where is his on an Asian trip, that he was monitoring the situation following the shooting. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the shooting an “evil act,” and promised “more details” from the state’s Department of Public Safety soon.

3:33 p.m.

Video on KSAT television showed first responders taking a stretch from the church to a waiting AirLife helicopter. Some victims were taken by medical helicopter to the Brooke Army Medical Center, KSAT said.

The incident is sure to cause flashbacks in Fort Worth, where on Sept. 15, 1999, horror struck Fort Worth’s Wedgwood Baptist Church when Larry Gene Ashbrook invaded a youth rally carrying 200 rounds of ammunition and a pipe bomb. Before he turned his gun on himself, seven people were dead and seven others injured.

This report includes material from The Associated Press.

Domingo Ramirez Jr.: 817-390-7763, @mingoramirezjr

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