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Texas Church Shooting Leaves at Least 25 Dead, Official Says

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The area around a site of a mass shooting is taped out in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5, 2017, in this picture obtained via social media.
  • The area around a site of a mass shooting is taped out in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5, 2017, in this picture obtained via social media.

By DAVID MONTGOMERY, CHRISTOPHER MELE and WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM
© 2017 New York Times News Service

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas — A gunman walked into a small Baptist church in rural Texas on Sunday and opened fire, killing at least 25 people and turning a tiny town east of San Antonio into the scene of the country’s most recent mass horror.

Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas confirmed the death toll, which has steadily increased throughout the day after the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. He said a pregnant woman and children were among the dead.

Two law enforcement sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation, identified the gunman as Devin P. Kelley, 26.

Cuellar, who said he was briefed by law enforcement authorities, said the gunman came from Comal County, which is northeast of San Antonio.

“He went there, he walked in, started shooting people and then took off” to Guadalupe County, he said.

Albert Gamez Jr., a Wilson County commissioner, told CNN that Sutherland Springs is a small community where everyone knows one another, he said.

He added: “You never expect something like this. My heart is broken.”

The service at the church last Sunday, which was posted on YouTube, began with a rendition of a song called “Happiness Is the Lord.”

Then the pastor, Frank Pomeroy, told his parishioners — 20 to 30 were visible in the video — to walk around the room and “shake somebody’s hand.”

A parishioner, Sandy Ward, said in an interview Sunday that a daughter-in-law and three of her grandchildren were shot. Her grandson, who is 5, was shot four times and remained in surgery as of Sunday night. She said she was awaiting word on her other family members.

Ward said she did not attend services Sunday because of her troubled knees and a bad hip. “I just started praying for everybody who was there” when she learned of the shooting, she said.

“Today an unthinkable tragedy occurred in our community,” the church wrote. “There will be Pastors and leaders present to pray with you or to talk, and the altar will be open for us to fall at the feet of Jesus.”