Shock, pain pervade small Texas town after deadly shooting

Updated 2017-11-06 17:02:57 Xinhua

As Sunday night falls, the small town of Sutherland Springs in the southern U.S. state of Texas, in the wake of a worst mass shooting in the history of the state, does not return to calm and tranquility as always.

A deadly shooting attack happened here on Sunday morning, which killed at least 26 people and injured 20 others, has brought shock, pain and bewilderment to a united and close community where around 400 people live.

The shooting happened at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, approximately 35 km southeast of San Antonio, Texas.

A man walked into the church at around 11:30 a.m. (1730 GMT) on Sunday and opened fire at the crowd of people.

Located in the center of the town, the First Baptist Church is the only church in the town where people worship every Sunday. Nearby there is a community center and a post office, showing people like to spend time here.

Before sunset, reporters saw all roads near the church were closed by police. Policeman Adam Hendrix told Xinhua he was called from a nearby town to come here for an emergency service.

"Almost every policeman here is like me. We'll be here until tomorrow morning," he told Xinhua.

On the lawn opposite to the church, about 30 people gathered with candles in their hands, giving prayers in silence to those victims in the tragedy.

While describing the shooting, "shock" was the word most people used. Abe Mathews is in his 40s and has been living in Sutherland Springs for more than 10 years.

"I've never seen anything like this, or heard of anything like this. This town is very peaceful," he said, "There are family members of the gunman among the victims, but I don't know him."

Showing the Facabook page of the gunman to reporter, Robert Rivas said he was "shocked" when he heard about the shooting.

Living in a nearby town, Susan Knight told Xinhua her nephew was at the church when the shooting happened. Fortunately, her nephew was not injured in the incident. According to Knight, the gunman's mother-in-law was among the victims.

Jeff Mitchell got the news from social media and came to Sutherland Springs. Living in a town about 9 km away, he knew many people in the town. "It has always been quiet and peaceful," he told Xinhua.

Most of the victims' identities are not yet confirmed, although the deceased include the 14-year-old daughter of Pastor Frank Pomeroy, the church leader told the press.

The alleged gunman was later identified as Devin Kelley from New Braunfels, a city about 50 km north of Sutherland Springs, federal and state law enforcement sources confirmed.

The motivation of the shooting was still under investigation, authorities said.

As Kelley left following the mass shooting, he was confronted by an armed resident who grabbed his rifle and engaged him, reports said. A short time later, Kelley was found dead in his vehicle at the county line. It is still unclear whether the shooter killed himself or was shot dead by the resident who confronted him.

Kelley received a bad-conduct discharge from the U.S. Air Force for allegedly assaulting his spouse and child, and was sentenced to 12 months' confinement after a 2012 court-martial. Kelly served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman Air Force Based in the southwestern U.S. state of New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told media.

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