18-Month-Old Child Among 26 Killed at Texas Church: Authorities
An 18-month-old child was among the 26 victims killed when a gunman opened fire at a rural Texas church during Sunday morning worship.
Police said that at least 20 other people were injured when a man with an assault rifle entered First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs at about 11:30 a.m.
At a press conference Monday, authorities said the youngest fatality was just 18 months old and the oldest was 77. Victims as young as 5 were treated for injuries in the hospital, authorities said.
The gunman was identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley. Kelley was a former U.S. Air Force member who served from 2010 to 2014, but he was reportedly given a bad conduct discharge and was court-martialed in May 2014.
He was not legally permitted to own the weapons he was carrying Sunday.
On Monday, authorities said the gunman had been involved in a domestic dispute with his mother-in-law, who attends the church.
"This was not racially motivated, it wasn't over religious beliefs," Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin said at a press conference. "There was a domestic situation going on with the family and in-laws."
On Sunday morning, the gunman, who was dressed in all black and tactical gear, walked to the church from a gas station across the street and opened fire outside the church before entering and continuing to shoot, police said.
A cashier at the gas station said she heard about 20 shots in quick succession, according to CNN.
Upon exiting the church, the gunman was confronted by a resident and shot, authorities said. That resident was able to flag down a man driving a truck and the pair took off after Kelley.
Authorities said Kelley called his father on his cell phone during the high-speed chase.
Kelley told his father that he was wounded and didn't think he was going to make it, Martin said Monday. Kelley subsequently shot himself and died, authorities said.
The gunman was later found dead in a crashed vehicle.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas said a pregnant woman was also among the dead.
Annabelle Renee Pomeroy, 14, the daughter of the church's pastor, was confirmed dead by her family. Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his wife were in Oklahoma at the time of the shooting, he said.
"Annabelle was one very beautiful special child,” Pomeroy told ABC News.
Police said they are continuing to investigate.
"Our prayers are with all who were harmed by this evil act. Our thanks to law enforcement for their response,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement after the shooting.
President Donald Trump, who is currently on a tour of Asia, tweeted about the tragedy Sunday afternoon.
Speaking from Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday, he said America would "pull together" in the wake of the tragedy. He thanked first responders and the FBI for their work.
"Ultimately, they stopped the suspect and rendered immediate life-saving aid to certain victims of the shooting," he said. "All of America is praying to God to help the wounded and the families of the victims. We will never ever leave their side, ever."
The massacre is the fifth deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history and the deadliest in Texas's history.
Sutherland Springs is a small town located 30 miles west of San Antonio. It reportedly has a population in the hundreds. According to Texas State Historical Association, the population was 362 in 2000.