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Live Updates: Texas Church Holds First Sunday Service Since Mass Shooting

Devin Kelley entered a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and killed 26 people, ranging in age from 18 months to 77 years old. He was later found dead in his vehicle after a short pursuit.

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Updated on

What We Know So Far

  • At least 26 people are dead after a gunman opened fire during a Sunday service at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Those killed in the church ranged in age from 18 months to 77 years old. Authorities also included the unborn fetus of a pregnant woman in the death toll, per state fetal homicide law.
  • Police identified the gunman as 26-year-old Devin P. Kelley. He was found dead from a likely self-inflicted gunshot inside his vehicle after it veered off the road while being pursued by good Samaritans, one of whom earlier shot him. Here's what we know about him.
  • Video of the shooting, taken by the church's cameras, reportedly shows Kelley methodically executing the victims over the course of seven minutes.
  • Law enforcement said Monday that the shooting was the result of a "domestic situation," and that the shooter had sent "threatening texts" to his mother-in-law, who attended the church where the shooting took place.
  • The Air Force said it failed to alert federal authorities to Kelley’s 2012 domestic violence conviction, which could have prevented him from purchasing the firearms used in the shooting.
  • Kelley escaped from a mental health facility in 2012 and had previously threatened Air Force officials, official documents show.
  • For an updated list of the victims, go here.
  • Here are all the hoaxes around the shooting.

Updates

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The First Baptist Church welcomed people back Sunday for its first service since the mass shooting that killed 26 people last week.

The meeting was held in a baseball field covered by a white tent and filled with hundreds of folding chairs. The first three rows reserved for survivors of the attack and family members of victims, while the rest were filled by the public, the Associated Press reported.

It was led by Pastor Frank Pomeroy, whose daughter, Annabelle, died in the shooting. Her funeral is planned for Monday.

"I say we choose light," Pomeroy told the mourners, according to NBC News. "Not the darkness that the gunman did."

Pomeroy, who was out of town with his wife when the shooting happened, urged his followers to continue to worship their God.

"I know everyone who gave their life that day, some of whom were my best friends and my daughter," he said, pausing to gather himself. "I guarantee they are dancing with Jesus today."

The congregation had spent the last few days working to transform the church into a memorial for the victims, which opened later on Sunday.

Bullet holes were filled in and everything inside the memorial was painted a bright white, including 26 chairs, adorned with a single rose and the name of a victim.

While most of the roses were red, single chair carried a pink rose and was dedicated to "Baby Holcombe," in memory of the unborn child of Crystal Holcombe, who was eight months pregnant when she was killed.

In the front of the church was a large wooden cross with a crown of thorns, and an old church service played in the background.

Though Pomeroy said last week that he thought the building should be demolished, it now seems uncertain how long the memorial will remain up. Church officials said Sunday that memorial would remain open 12 hours a day and five days a week, though it was not clear for how long.

"The members of the church will make this decision in the far future," Associate Pastor Mark Collins told NBC News. He added some members of the congregation needed to see the church, and it is a way to honor the victims.

Collins said that the congregation plans to hold a service on the church's grounds next Sunday that will likely take place in a makeshift structure.
— Michelle Broder Van Dyke

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Tessa Brennaman, the ex-wife of Devin Kelley, spoke out Friday for the first time since the gunman killed 26 people at a Texas church, describing the abuse she suffered during their short marriage.

Kelley spent a year in military confinement after pleading guilty to domestic assault against Brennaman and her young son. On Friday, Brennaman told Inside Edition he once threatened to kill her while holding a gun to her head over a speeding ticket.

"He had a gun in his holster right here and he took that gun out and he put it to my temple, and he told me, 'Do you want to die? Do you want to die?'"

Kelley also threatened to kill her family, she said.

"He just had a lot of demons or hatred inside of him," she said.

According to law enforcement, Kelley threatened the family of his current wife before going on the shooting rampage that left 26 people dead at their church. Among the victims was his wife's grandmother.

—Claudia Koerner

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The pastor of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, said that the church will not reopen after a gunman opened fire on parishioners Sunday, killing 26 people and wounding 20 others.

"There’s too many that do not want to go back in there,” Pastor Frank Pomeroy told the Wall Street Journal. “We will probably turn it into a memorial for a while. We’re playing it day by day right now.”

Pomeroy was out of town when the massacre occurred on Sunday. His 14-year-old daughter Annabelle was killed in the shooting.

The congregation will continue to meet at another location, Pomeroy said, adding that church services would resume as early as this Sunday at a nearby community center.

The church itself will likely be demolished, according to a spokesperson for the Southern Baptist Convention, who said Pomeroy told the convention this week that he wants to tear down the building.

"The pastor expressed his desire that perhaps the best way forward is to have the church demolished and replaced with a prayer garden," the spokesperson, Roger "Sing" Oldham told USA Today.

The decision about what to do with building will ultimately be up to the church's members, Oldham said, but added that he expects they will follow the pastor's lead.

—Talal Ansari

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SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas — Three days after the horrific church shooting that claimed the lives of 26 people, Texans are grappling with the question of what could be done to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again.

While residents are dealing with feelings of disbelief and heartbreak over the shooting, they’re also considering what changes local communities and national leaders can make going forward.

Rebecca Fernandez, a resident of nearby town Helotes, said she’s still having trouble wrapping her mind around the brutality of the shooting.

“You attend church and think you’re in a safe place. For something like this to happen, it’s heartbreaking,” she said.
Read more here.

—Claudia Koerner

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Pence says review of why gunman's record was not reported to FBI "will be completed in days, not weeks"

Eric Gay / AP / Via Facebook: CBSDFW

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife visit with first responders, family, friends and victims outside the Sutherland Spring Baptist Church.

An internal review on why the Air Force did not report that the Texas church shooter had been court-martialed for assaulting his wife and child will be completed "in days, not weeks," Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday.

Pence was visiting Sutherland Springs to meet with first responders, survivors, and victims of the mass shooting that left 26 people dead.

"Three days ago, evil descended on this small town and on this small church," Pence said. "But we also gather with the resolve that this evil must come to an end."

Pence said he and his wife, Karen, were asked by President Trump, who is currently on an Asia tour, to visit the small town.

The vice president said the Air Force review would be completed in days and that the Department of Defense was conducting its own review to assure bureaucratic errors like the one that allowed Devin Kelley to purchase firearms would not occur again.

"We now know it was a crime that the assailant was ever able to purchase a firearm in the first place," Pence told reporters at a news conference Wednesday. "He lied on his application, had a history of mental illness and there were bureaucratic failures."

The conviction in 2012 should have barred Kelley from being able to purchase a gun, but Air Force officials said they failed to report the conviction to the FBI's National Crime Information Center, allowing four background checks for gun purchases since then to come back clean.

"We will work with leaders in Congress to ensure that this never happens again," Pence said.

He did not, however, detail what sort of solutions the Trump administration would consider with members of Congress.

Pence also met with and applauded the two men who shot at and pursued the gunman during the attack.

"These two brave men undoubtedly saved lives," he said.

—Salvador Hernandez

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Texas church shooter fired shots for seven minutes

The man responsible for killing 26 people and injuring 20 at a church in Texas fired his weapon continuously for seven minutes, according to the New York Times.

Video footage from inside the church showed Devin Kelley shooting the victims, including young children, in the head, execution-style, the Times reported, citing an unnamed law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. It is unclear how many shots Kelley fired.

The church regularly recorded its services and posted the video online. Investigators have reviewed the footage from Sunday's shooting.

—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos

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"I'm really not surprised this happened": Texas church shooter left a trail of warning signs

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas — In the years before he opened fire inside a rural Texas church, taking the lives of 26 people, Devin Kelley threatened the people around him.

In high school, Kelley made “impulsive verbal threats” when he got angry, though no one ever thought he’d actually act on them, one classmate recalled. That behavior later escalated into a brutal attack on his then-wife and young stepson. Allegations of violence and threatening behavior continued over the years, most recently in threatening text messages to his second wife's mother.

Law enforcement and military records documented Kelley’s patterns of behavior over the last six years. But that paper trail didn’t reach the federal background check system — leaving Kelley free to purchase four firearms and act against the latest target of his anger: his wife’s family and their church.

Another former classmate said that Kelley was once a typical, happy kid. That changed over the years, she said.

Read more here.

—Claudia Koerner

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The Pentagon has known for at least 20 years about failures to report military criminal history to FBI databases, which allowed Texas church gunman Devin Kelley to purchase four guns in two states despite serving time for assaulting his wife and cracking his stepson's skull while he was in the Air Force, the Associated Press reported.

The Air Force's failure to send Kelley's violent offender conviction, which included multiple charges of domestic violence, as well as pointing a loaded gun at his wife, to the federal database allowed Kelley to buy several weapons before he shot and killed 26 people and wounded 20 more at the Sutherland Springs church.

Federal law prohibits people with such convictions from buying guns, but Kelley passed every background check.

“I don’t believe the Air Force should be left to self-police after such tragic consequences,” Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Texas Republican chair of the House Armed Services Committee, told the AP.

The Pentagon inspector general said they found hundreds of convicted offenders' fingerprints were never added to the FBI's criminal database, a failure rate of about 30%.

A report from 1997 showed that fingerprint cards were not submitted in more than 80% of cases in the Army and Navy, and 38% in the Air Force.

“The lack of reporting to the FBI criminal history files prevents civilian law enforcement agencies from having significant information on military offenders,” the report said.

Brianna Sacks

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Texas church shooter escaped from a mental health facility in 2012

Texas church shooter Devin Kelley escaped a mental health behavioral facility in New Mexico in 2012, months after he attacked his first wife and child, and about five years before the massacre in Sutherland Springs, according to police documents obtained by media outlet KPRC2.

The El Paso Police Department incident report states that after Kelley was picked up by two officers at a bus terminal in El Paso on the evening of June 7, 2012, they learned he had escaped from Peak Behavioral Health Services in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.

A witness told officers that Kelley “suffered from mental disorders" and had plans to escape Peak Behavioral Health Services by taking a bus, according to the police report, which does not note the reason why Kelley had been admitted to the facility. The witness also told officers Kelley “was a danger to himself and others as he had already been caught sneaking firearms onto Holloman Air Force base."

The report adds that Kelley “was attempting to carry out death threats” he had made to his military superiors.

The police report also notes that an entry regarding the incident was submitted to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database for gun purchases.

—Cora Lewis

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Devin Kelley went aisle to aisle searching for congregants to shoot at during his rampage at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. He also shot at crying babies, according to Joaquin Ramirez, a survivor of the shooting.

In an interview with KSAT, Ramirez and his wife Roseanne Solis provided a chilling firsthand account of the shooting that left 26 dead, including several children. The youngest victim was 18 months old.

"I hear firecrackers popping. Ta-ta-ta," Solis, who was hit in the shoulder, recalled. "Everybody started screaming, yelling. Everyone got down, crawling under wherever they could hide. It was so scary. He was shooting hard."

Solis thought the police had arrived when there was a moment of silence, but then the shooter entered the church. "Everyone was saying, 'Be quiet. It's him. It's him,'" she said.

Solis told KSAT that Kelley yelled, "Everybody die, [expletive]," and resumed shooting.

The gunman went aisle-to-aisle searching for his next victims, according to Ramirez.

Speaking in Spanish, Ramirez said that Kelley also shot at babies who were crying.

He told KSAT that he signaled the pastor's 14-year-old daughter Annabelle Pomeroy to keep quiet because the gunman was shooting at anyone who made a sound. The teen was one of the victims of the shooting.

“I was praying to God to save me, because I could see death," Ramirez said. He managed to crawl out of the church and called 911.

"The Lord saved me because I know it was my last day," Solis said.

—Tasneem Nashrulla

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FBI says authorities have the church shooter's phone but have not been able to unlock it

The FBI has taken church shooter Devin Kelley's cell phone into evidence but has not been unable to unlock the device, according to Special Agent Christopher Combs, who is leading the federal investigation.

"They're in the process of looking at the phone. At this point in time we are unable to get into that phone," Combs said Tuesday, speaking to reporters during a morning press conference.

The difficulty accessing the phone's contents, he added, "highlights an issue that you have all heard about before with the advance of the technology and the phones and the encryptions. Law enforcement, whether it's at the state, local, or federal level, is increasingly not able to get into these phones."

Combs said he did not have a time frame on how long it would take agents to access information stored on the phone. He said he would not specify what kind of phone it is, "because I don't want to tell every bad guy out there what phone to buy to harass our efforts on trying to find justice."

Texas officials at the press conference reiterated that they do not believe the shooting was an act of domestic terrorism.

"By definition we have no reason to believe this crime was politically motivated or motivated based on religious beliefs," said Freeman Martin, regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, adding that authorities have not found evidence that anyone was working with Kelley on the attack.

Regarding Kelley's motivation, Freeman said the investigation is ongoing, and repeated that officials "know that there was conflict" between the gunman and his mother-in-law.

"He was upset with the mother-in-law. But beyond that, I can't comment," Freeman said. Officials said the crime scene investigation at the church is likely to wrap up by Wednesday night.

Ten of the victims injured in the shooting remain in critical condition in area hospitals.

—Nidhi Prakash

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Sheriff's records show reports of allegations of sexual assault and domestic abuse against Kelley in 2013 and 2014

In June 2013, an officer from the Comal County Sheriff's Office answered a "non-emergency call" about a reported sexual assault allegedly committed by Kelley against an unnamed victim, according to records obtained by BuzzFeed News.

The alleged assault, labeled in sheriff's department records as "completed" and "forcible rape," was witnessed by a Tessa Kaylnn Brennaman, a name listed for Kelley's first wife in some public records.

Records also show that an officer with the Comal County Sheriff's Office responded to a February 2014 call for a domestic violence incident involving Kelley and Shields, his then-girlfriend. According to a report from the sheriff's department obtained by BuzzFeed News, a caller reported receiving texts from Shields, saying that "her boyfriend is abusing her," and Shields then told authorities that "her arms were red and he told her to pack a bag."

The sheriff's department report concludes by labeling the incident a "misunderstanding and teenage drama." Shields and Kelley were married two months later.

Here's what else we know about the shooter.

—Cora Lewis and Claudia Koerner

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Church shooter pleaded guilty to choking and kicking wife, beating stepson in 2012

During his court martial in 2012, Texas church shooter Devin Kelley accepted a deal with Air Force prosecutors, pleading guilty to two domestic violence charges in exchange for having several others dismissed.

Kelley's court martial ultimately ended with him earning a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force. Court documents, obtained by BuzzFeed News on Monday, show that as part of the proceedings he pleaded guilty to choking, kicking, and pulling the hair of his then-wife, Tessa Kelley.

He also pleaded guilty to striking a child, in this case his stepson, "on the head and body with a force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm."

According to an Air Force prosecutor who spoke with NBC News Monday, Kelley was convicted of fracturing his then 2-year-old stepson's skull.

In exchange for the guilty pleas, Kelley had several other charges dismissed, including several for pointing guns at his wife and one for hitting a child.

Earlier Monday, the Air Force said that Kelley's convictions were never reported to the FBI and entered into the National Criminal Information Center database.

—Jim Dalrymple II

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Church shooter died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, officials say

Texas officials say church shooter had 3 gunshot wounds, 2 from the armed citizen who confronted him and 1 "consist… https://t.co/sIzQ6dS7qR

Texas church shooter Devin Kelley was found dead in his vehicle with three gunshot wounds, two from an armed citizen who confronted the 26-year-old, and the third from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, officials said Monday.

Kelley unloaded 15 gun magazines during the shooting rampage at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday, killing 26 people.

The news came after authorities spent more than a day assessing multiple crime scenes and pulling bodies from the small church.

"I can tell you the scene in there is horrific, not even a word to describe it," Christopher Combs, the FBI special agent in charge, told reporters Monday. Four people remain in critical condition.

More than 15 magazines with 30-round capacity have been recovered from the crime scene, officials said, while adding that Kelley passed all required systems and background checks when he purchased four firearms.

"There was nothing in the system that said he could not purchase that firearm," Combs said. "In all three of those databases, there was not information that we would say was prohibitive for that man to get the firearm."

The Air Force on Monday said it failed to alert federal authorities to Kelley’s 2012 domestic violence conviction, which could have prevented him from purchasing the firearms.

Officials would not confirm that the massacre, the worst mass shooting in Texas history, was a revenge attack, but emphasized that Kelley appeared to be angry with his mother-in-law, Michelle Fields, whose mother was one of the victims.

"There are many ways that he could have taken care of the mother-in-law without coming with 15 loaded magazines and an assault rifle to the church," said Freeman Martin, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety. "I think he came with a purpose and a mission."

—Brianna Sacks

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Air Force says the shooter's domestic violence conviction was not reported to FBI, allowing him to obtain guns

A domestic violence conviction that should have barred alleged Texas shooter Devin Patrick Kelley from buying a firearm was never entered into the National Criminal Information Center database, US Air Force officials said Monday night.

In a statement, the Air Force confirmed that Kelley was convicted by a general court martial on two counts of domestic abuse against his wife and stepson, and served 12 months in confinement before being released with a bad conduct discharge in 2014.

"Federal law prohibited him from buying or possessing firearms after his conviction," the statement said, adding that "initial information indicates that Kelley's domestic violence offense was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center database," which is used to conduct FBI background checks for gun purchases.

The Air Force did not offer any explanation for how or why Kelley's criminal conviction was never put into the system.

Officials said Monday that the service has launched a review of how Kelley's records were handled, as well as "a comprehensive review of Air Force databases to ensure records in other cases have been reported correctly."

—Grace Wyler

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The gunman in the deadliest shooting in Texas history shot and killed his grandmother-in-law, Lula Woicinski White, during Sunday's church service, according to multiple outlets and social media accounts.

Devin Kelley was married to White's granddaughter, Danielle Shields, records show. White also posted a photo of her granddaughter, as well as multiple pictures with her own daughter, 54-year-old Michelle Fields.

Investigators said that Kelley, 26, had been involved in a "domestic situation" and had been texting his mother-in-law "threatening" messages before the attack.

Ann Montgomery, a family friend of the Shields and White, wrote on Facebook that Danielle used to go to the small, tight-knit church. "She was part of our youth group. Her parents and grandmother went there. We think he was targeting them. They had a lot of problems with him."

The 71-year-old was an active member of the Baptist church, where she died on Sunday, and a devout Christian, often posting about and sharing its events, as well as Bible verses. In 2013, she shared a photograph of herself hugging Pastor Frank Pomeroy's son, writing about how she missed him now that he was in college.

In July, White shared a photo of a fishing trip she took with her grandson, David, writing that the two "had a great time...made great memories..fishing..swimming pool..billards...ping pong...waves in port a...more of all before mentioned...kid kept me busy!!! Lol."

"My sister was a wonderful, caring person — a God-loving person. She loved the people in her church. They were all her best friends," her sister, Mary Mishler Clyburn, told the New York Daily News.

White's family members and friends posted their remembrances on social media, recalling how she always had a "smile on her face," as well as their heartbreak and disbelief.

"I have no doubt where she is right now. She is in heaven laying her crowns and jewels at the feet of Jesus and celebrating. I love and will miss you Aunt Lula Woicinski White," wrote her niece, Amy Backus.

Another niece, Charity Sales, posted several times that "she just can't believe this," and called the massacre a "horrific act."

"Aunt Lula Woicinski White will be missed greatly, I don’t think there was ever a time I saw her she didn’t have a smile on her face and a crazy fun tactic up her sleeve," she said.

—Brianna Sacks

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Vice President Mike Pence will visit Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Wednesday to meet with the families of the victims

Karen & I will travel to #SutherlandSprings on Wednesday to meet w/families of the fallen, injured & law enforcement. We are with you Texas

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A LinkedIn account that appears to belong to Kelley states that he graduated from New Braunfels High School in 2009, which a former classmate, Arnold Cerda, confirmed to BuzzFeed News. Cerda said he remembered playing football with Kelley in middle school, but in high school he "changed" and dressed in black.

When the news spread through Texas on Sunday afternoon, Rosemary Tribbey heard that the shooter went to New Braunfels, and asked her son, Taylor, if she’d known him. Taylor pulled up his Facebook profile photo and recognized him right away: They’d taken karate together for years.

“The big thing I remember about him is that he was normal and nice,” Taylor Tribbey, Devin’s karate classmate told BuzzFeed News. “He broke up with his girlfriend in high school, but they stayed friends.”

Taylor, his sister, and others from the karate school would periodically go on outings coordinated by the school — to the local water park, and, on one occasion, to the movies.

“We had a good time with him,” Tribbey said. “I’ve been seeing on social media that he said he was an atheist all the way in 6th grade, but there were times when he talked about God — it must’ve been before he lost his faith.”

Olivia Corbello, who attended sixth grade with Kelley, told BuzzFeed News that even in sixth grade, Kelley was "constantly challenging our teacher about Christianity."

"He wanted everyone to know that he was an atheist," Corbello said, describing Kelley as a "quiet and opinionated" student. She said that he would wear glasses and black cut off gloves to school.

Tribbey described Kelly as a good karate student during the four to five years they practiced together. Later on, when the two attended high school together, Tribbey stopped taking karate and became involved in the ROTC.

“It seems to make sense, given that he ended up in the Air Force.” After Tribbey enlisted in the Air Force, his father continued to practice and later teach at one of the karate school's studious.

Here's everything else we know about Kelley.

—Michelle Broder Van Dyke, Charlie Warzel, Mary Ann Georgantopoulos, Anne Helen Petersen

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Officials say the massacre was sparked by a "domestic situation," shooter had sent "threatening" messages to mother-in-law who attended the church

Authorities said Monday that "there was a domestic situation going on" within the shooter's family, and that the shooter had sent "threatening" text messages to his mother-in-law, who attended the church where the massacre took place.

"We can't go into details about that domestic situation that is continuing to be vetted and thoroughly investigated, but we wanted to get that out there: This was not racially motivated," FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs told reporters at a press conference. "It wasn't over religious beliefs. There was a domestic situation going on with the family and in-laws."

Combs said that authorities know the shooter had "expressed anger towards his mother-in-law," but declined to provide further details.

At the press conference, officials confirmed that the current death toll of 26, with 23 dead at the church, two outside the church, and one at the hospital. Twenty people were wounded in the shooting, and 10 remain in critical condition, officials said.

Inside the church, the deceased range from 18 months to 77 years of age, officials said.

According to Cory Lane and Brian Braskinski, who are leading the investigation for the Texas Rangers, the suspect, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, initially drew attention Sunday morning at the Valero gas station because he was dressed in all black.

Officials were uncertain whether Kelley also wore a black mask with a white-skull design at the time, but said he was wearing the mask and a ballistic body armor vest with a plate on the front when he got out of the car in front of the church and began shooting.

According to officials, “there was some length of time that the subject spent inside that church in the shooting event” and “he moved around freely inside the church.”

The suspect continued to fire as an active shooter call went out to local law enforcement, officials said. As law enforcement responded to the call, a local resident who lives across the street from the church heard the gunfire, armed himself with an air assault rifle and engaged the suspect, according to the authorities. The suspect was shot, dropped his assault rifle, jumped into his Ford Expedition and fled the scene.

The local resident then flagged down another young man and the two pursued the suspect in their cars.

During the pursuit, officials said, the suspect called his father to tell him he’d been shot and “didn’t think he was going to make it," and subsequently appears to have shot himself. Pathologists will determine the final cause and manner of his death, officials said.

Fred Milanowski, special agent in charge of Houston's field division for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said three firearms were recovered from the scene: a 5.56 rifle, which was found at the church, and two handguns — a Glock 9 millimeter and a Ruger 22 — that were recovered from the car. All three firearms, as well as a fourth gun, were purchased by Kelley. Two of the weapons were purchased in Colorado and two in Texas; the sales were conducted in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, authorities said.

Officials confirmed the suspect did not have a license to carry, although he did have a noncommissioned unarmed private security license, which they described as “similar to a security guard at a concert-type situation.”

“There were no disqualifiers entered into the national crime information center database that would preclude him from receiving a private security license,” an official with the Texas Department of Public Safety said Monday.

—Cora Lewis

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The son of a Charleston church shooting victim spoke out about gun violence after the Texas massacre

Instagram: @csingleton_2

Chris Singleton, the son of a victim of the 2015 church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, which left nine people dead, posted about gun violence on social media on Monday after the massacre at church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the night before.

"This morning [26] people were murdered in a church while praying," Singleton wrote in part on Instagram. "This cuts so deep because I know exactly the pain that is being felt in Texas right now. There are parents losing children & children losing parents. Their whole world has been turned upside down. Gun control is an issue that needs to be resolved."

Singleton also tweeted about the tragedy as more information about the victims was released.

If this doesn't upset you about our laws on gun control then nothing will. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !!! https://t.co/A6g3QmO37f

Hard to breathe thinking that 20 more people were killed in a place of worship. Gun violence is REAL & needs to be STOPPED!!!

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Singleton's mother, was killed while attending a prayer group at Emanuel AME Church in June 2015, along with eight others. She was a mother to three, a reverend, and a high school track coach. The gunman, Dylann Roof, was motivated by racial hatred.

People responded to Singleton's message with hopes, prayers, and agreement.

Read more here.

—Cora Lewis

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Devin P. Kelley’s former in-laws attended the church he attacked on Sunday, the local sheriff confirmed.

Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt, speaking to CNN, said the shooter’s motivation remained unclear but provided more details about the attack. “We know that his ex-in-laws or in-laws came to church here from time to time. They were not here yesterday. So we don't know why he actually showed up yesterday.

“But we know that when he left, he left destruction.”

He also said it was his “understanding” that there were more weapons in the vehicle used by the attacker.

Tackitt confirmed that 26 people were killed in the attack, and said his department’s focus would be on helping the victims' families and finding answers. “We're going to give them all the support we can,” he said.

“They were all good people that were there in the church,” he said. “I know there's one family that [lost] six or seven. And that's going to be something that's really hard for them to deal with.”

Tackitt said that “never in my wildest dreams” did he believe that his town would suffer such a tragedy, but he praised his officers’ response and professionalism as they reacted to the shooting.

“A lot of them were off. But they came out when they heard about it. They got dressed and they came out to help.”

He said that the hardest part of the attack was that children were involved. At least two children, aged 14 and 7 years old, are among those confirmed dead so far, BuzzFeed News reported yesterday.

Asked about President Donald Trump’s remarks that the shooting was the result of a mental health issue, rather than a gun control one, Tackitt responded: “We just wish there was more help for these people.”

Twenty people remain in the hospital in a “stable” condition, Tackitt also said.

–Rose Troup Buchanan

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Devin Patrick Kelley confirmed as church shooter

Suspect in Sutherland Springs shooting confirmed to be Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, of New Braunfels, TX. More info to be released later today.

Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, has been named as the gunman responsible for attacking a church in Texas, the local police force confirmed Monday.

Kelley was found dead inside a vehicle following a short police chase after he opened fire on those inside the church. Twenty-six people were killed, including children. It remains unclear how he died.

Little is known about Kelley, whose name was widely reported by multiple news organizations prior to the force's confirmation, but some details have started to emerge. He served in the US Air Force from 2010 until his discharge in 2014. He was court-martialed in 2012 after he assaulted his wife and their child.

Read more here.

—Rose Troup Buchanan

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Bryan and Karla Holcombe have been named by friends and close family as among the 26 victims of the Texas church shooting.

The couple were both volunteers, and a friend described them to the Daily Beast as being “about as close to a true life of Christ as you could get.”

"My father was a good man, and he loved to preach. He had a good heart," Scott Holcombe, 30, told the New York Times outside the local emergency room.

Authorities continue to investigate the motive behind the attack. Multiple media organizations have identified 26-year-old Devin P. Kelley as the alleged shooter. The gunman was found dead in a vehicle after a short police pursuit following the attack.

Read more here.

—Rose Troup Buchanan

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Texas church shooting is deadliest in state's history, governor says

VIDEO: Texas governor says church shooting worst in state’s history. https://t.co/8HphQQ01wQ

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the shooting that occurred at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs was the deadliest in the state's history.

Speaking to reporters Sunday after a gunman opened fire at the church, killing at least 26 people, Abbott said the entire state mourned the loss of life.

"The tragedy of course is worsened by the fact it occurred in a church, a place of worship, where these people were innocently gunned down," he said. "We mourn their loss."

The gunman, identified in multiple media outlets as 26-year-old Devin P. Kelley, was found dead in his vehicle after a short pursuit. It was not immediately clear how he died or what his motive was.

—Jason Wells

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President Trump called the Texas church shooter "deranged" and described him as someone who had a "mental health problem at the highest level."

Trump made the comments while in Japan as part of his Asia tour, the Associated Press reported.

The church shooter, identified by multiple outlets as 26-year-old Devin P. Kelley, was found dead inside his vehicle after it veered off the road while being pursued by authorities on Sunday.

The pursuit started after he opened fire at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing at least 26 people.

Authorities were still investigating the motive for the attack overnight Sunday.

—Jason Wells

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Neighbors recall hearing gunfire from the direction of church shooter's listed address in recent days

People who live near an address listed for the Texas church shooter told the Associated Press they heard intense gunfire from the direction of that area in recent days.

"It’s really loud," said 16-year-old Ryan Albers, who lives across the road from the listed home of purported church shooter Devin Kelley. "At first I thought someone was blasting. It was someone using automatic weapon fire."

Another nearby neighbor, who did not want to be identified, told the AP he had also heard gunfire coming from across the street, but wasn't sure if it came from the property.

Kelley was found dead in his vehicle after a short pursuit by authorities. It was not immediately clear how he was killed.

—Jason Wells

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Texas residents describe shock and horror of church massacre

Darren Abate / AP

Mourners participate in a candlelight vigil held for the victims of a fatal shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas — Michael Ward didn’t hear the shots at the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church on Sunday, but his wife, Leslie, did. She heard at least 20 and yelled at him to wake up.

Michael ran to wake up his brother, Chris, who was also sleeping after a long night at work, and told him, "They shot up the church, everyone’s been shot." He flagged down his father on the road and they ran to the church, where a handful of police officers were already on the scene, and ran inside.

"I was just looking for my nephew, looking for my nieces, searching all over," Ward said. "There was a woman who’d been shot three times in the leg, and she was doing all she could to help."

They started pulling bodies out. All four of the children who had gone to church with their mother, Joann, that morning — Rihanna Garza, 9; Emily Garza, 7; Ryland Ward, 5; and Brooke Ward, 5 — were found.

Ryland, Ward said, was shot four times but as of Sunday night was alive, as was Rihanna. Emily and Brooke, however, did not make it, nor did Joann.

At least 26 people in all were shot dead at the church. The gunman was later found dead in his vehicle after a short pursuit.

It wasn’t until later that the Wards learned that Chris had been mistakenly identified as the shooter — which then quickly spread through social media.

Read more here.

—Anne Helen Petersen and Charlie Warzel

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Gunman was court-martialed from Air Force for assault

The purported gunman who killed at least 26 people in a church in Texas on Sunday was court-martialed from the Air Force for assaulting his wife and child.

Authorities did not publicly release the gunman's identity Sunday, but officials confirmed to multiple outlets that he was 26-year-old Devin P. Kelley. He was found dead in his vehicle after being pursued from the church.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told BuzzFeed News that according to records, Kelley served in logistics readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge in 2014.

After he was court-martialed in 2012 for assault on his spouse and assault on their child, Stefanek said, Kelley received a bad-conduct discharge and confinement for 12 months.

Read more here.

—Michelle Broder Van Dyke

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Man says he pursued gunman in his pickup truck after shooting

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Johnnie Langendorff, who lives in nearby Seguin, Texas, told local media that he was driving past the church immediately after the shooting and saw "two men exchanging gunfire." After the suspect fled in his vehicle, the other man, who Langendorff described as a member of the community, ran up to his truck and said they needed to go after the gunman.

"He said he just shot up the church so that's what I did," Langendorff told KSATV. "I just acted."

The two men pursued the suspect down the highway, dodging traffic at about 95 miles per hour, Langendorff recounted, until the suspect "lost control and got off the road." Langendorff parked his car nearby and the other man, clutching his rifle, hopped out and kept his weapon trained on the suspect's car.

Langendorff had been on the phone with police during the chase and helped direct authorities to the scene. Langendorf said he didn't see any movement coming from the vehicle — officials are trying to determine whether the suspect, identified by multiple outlets as 26-year-old Devin P. Kelley, killed himself in his car.

Police arrived about five minutes after the suspect pulled off, Langendorf said, and "took care of the rest."

"I was strictly acting on what the right thing to do was," he said.

Langendorff's girlfriend, Summer Caddell, shared the story on Facebook, pointing out his pickup truck in a flock of police vehicles in a shot broadcast on KSAT.

Brianna Sacks

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Crowd gathers for candlelight vigil

Moment of prayer for the victims at the candle light vigil.

Dozens of people gathered in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Sunday night to pay tribute to those who were killed earlier in the day at the First Baptist Church shooting.

At least 26 people were killed after a gunman opened fire outside and in the church. The gunman was found dead inside his vehicle after being chased by authorities.

—Charlie Warzel

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Witnesses say children were the first people the gunman encountered when he entered the church

Kevin Jordan, who lives across from the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, told KENS5 that the suspect fired at his house before taking off in his car.

"I was literally maybe 50 yards from the guy. He was in a face mask and shooting," Jordan said. "He saw me and took a pop shot at my house. It went through my window and my son was literally 2 feet from where the guy shot our house."

Jordan, a medical assistant, said he then ran to the small church and said the scene inside was indescribable.

"They try and train you for everything, but I can't describe what I saw," he told the station. "I was trying to dress people's wounds. I saw my best friend's mother and I was trying to help her out. It was bad. I tried to help as many as I could. You can't explain it. Your mind doesn't want to grasp it."

Another witness told BuzzFeed News that those inside the church said the gunman started shooting through the windows before coming inside. The children in the congregation were seated in the back pews and were the first people the shooter encountered, they added.

Michael Ward told BuzzFeed News that his four nephews and nieces were some of the children shot sitting in the back row. His sister-in-law was also wounded.

Ward ran and woke up his brother, Chris, whose children were inside, and "they went over to the church and began pulling them out." The children had just come back from Sunday school and were sitting in the back row.

Ward's 5-year-old nephew, Ryland, was shot four times. A bullet hit the glasses of his 9-year-old niece, Rihanna, breaking the frames and narrowly missing her. Their mother, Joanne Ward, was also shot and was taken to the hospital.

Chris Ward's aunt, Edith Sommer, told BuzzFeed News that her niece died after being transported to a local hospital.

Charlie Warzel, Anne Helen Petersen, Brianna Sacks

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President Trump said his thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the Texas church shooting.

Trump, who recently started a tour of Asia, said the "pain and grief we all feel cannot begin to imagine the suffering of those" who lost loved ones.

"Americans will do what we do best: We pull together and join hands and lock arms and through the tears and sadness we stand strong," he told reporters traveling with him in Japan.

Trump also pledged support for those affected by the tragedy.

"All of America is praying to God to help the wounded and the families of the victims," he said. "We will never ever leave their side."

In a statement issued by the White House later in the evening, Trump said "our hearts are broken."

"This horrible act of evil occurred as the victims and their families were in their place of sacred worship," he said. "We cannot put into words the pain and grief we all feel, and we cannot begin to imagine the suffering of those who lost the ones they loved. Our hearts are broken."

He later ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims.

—Jason Wells

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At least 26 people are dead after a gunman opened fire during a Sunday service at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, making it the deadliest shooting in the state's history.

At 11:20 a.m., a man dressed in all black and tactical gear started firing at the small church, officials said at a press conference. He then crossed to the right side of the building, still firing, before going inside and killing 23 people and injuring dozens more. When he left the building, "a local resident grabbed his rifle and engaged that suspect," said Freeman Martin, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The gunman then dropped his weapon, an assault rifle, and ran to his car, Martin said. Authorities pursued the suspect, whom they found dead inside his vehicle after it veered off the road.

Twenty-three people died inside the church, two people were killed outside, and one person died from their injuries after being transported from the scene, Martin said. The victims' ages range from 5 to 72 years old.

"There's a lot of work to be done," Martin said. "We are only hours into this investigation, which is going to take significant amounts of time."

Officials did not immediately release the suspect's name, saying only that he was a young white male, maybe in his early twenties.

"There are many, many we cannot answer," Martin said, explaining that authorities were still processing "many crime scenes."

"We have the church, we have outside the church. We have where the suspect's vehicle was located. We have been following up on the suspect and where he's from, his residence," the director said.

Officials cautioned that the death toll could rise.

"We ask for God's comfort, for God's guidance, and for God's healing, for all those who are suffering," Gov. Greg Abbott said at the press conference. "I ask for every mom and dad at home tonight that you put your arm around your kid and give your kid a big hug and let them know how much you love them."

Frank Pomeroy, the pastor of the church, believes his 14-year-old daughter is one of the victims. He told ABC News that "she was one very beautiful, special child." Pomeroy and his wife, Sherri, were not at the church when the shooting occurred, according to CNN and NBC News.

The CEO of Connally Memorial Medical Center, a nearby hospital, told BuzzFeed News the hospital had received eight shooting victims on Sunday, four of whom were transferred out to University Hospital in San Antonio. The four who remained at Connally Memorial were in stable condition — three of them have been discharged, he said. A staff member at the University Hospital in San Antonio said he could not provide any information.

A spokesperson for the FBI's San Antonio field office, Michelle Lee, confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the agency is assisting local law enforcement in Sutherland Springs.

"We are responding to provide assistance and there have been reports of multiple injuries and fatalities. We don't have those numbers yet," said Lee.

Read more here.