Once again the United States has been shocked to the core by a mass shooting. This time, the incident was not in a big city or in a crowd of concert goers, but in a Baptist Church in a small town, Sutherland Springs, Texas, about 30 miles from San Antonio. What is known as of this writing:
- A total of 26 people are dead. At least nine victims are in hospitals in San Antonio some in critical condition.
- One of the people killed was the pastor’s 14-year old daughter.
- Witnesses reported hearing semi-automatic gunfire. This alerted one citizen who retrieved his personal weapon.
- A local citizen who witnessed him shooting got his own weapon and engaged the shooter as he exited the church.
- The shooter was wearing a bulletproof vest.
- The shooter was discharged from the United States Air Force
- The citizen who engaged the shooter pursued the gunman, identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, for about 5 miles before the shooter crashed.
- The shooter was found dead in his vehicle at the crash scene.
- It is not known if the shooter killed himself, or if the citizen that engaged him was responsible for his demise.
- Police are said to be searching the shooter’s house—which is in a neighboring county—for explosives and any other information they can find that would indicate a motive.
- The local field office of the FBI and ATF are on the scene.
What is shocking about this incident is that it happened in a place no one ever thought such a thing would: rural, small-town Texas.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told Fox News that “people never think” a shooting like this can “happen in their communities.”
“In a small town, … I can imagine that these people are devastated. And everyone in the community is going to … have some type of close relationship” to those either killed or injured at the First Baptist Church.
He added it’s “hard to justify why anyone would do this.”
“This is horrific for our tiny little tight-knit town,” Alena Berlanga, who lives 10 minutes outside of Sutherland Springs told The Associated Press. “Everybody’s going to be affected and everybody knows someone who’s affected.”
At this time, there is no obvious link to known terrorism. However, the gunman’s history has not been completely vetted. Time will tell, maybe, what led Kelley to go on a shooting rampage in a small church in a small town in rural Texas. Until then, it seems that no place is safe.