Date
17 November 2017
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Photo: Reuters
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Photo: Reuters

News analysis: Motive sought in horrific shooting

Federal officials are trying to establish a motive for an attack that killed at least 26 people at a small Texas church.

The shooting turned a tiny town east of San Antonio into the scene of the country’s most recent mass horror, according to the New York Times.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas confirmed the death toll, which has steadily increased throughout the day after the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. A pregnant woman and children were among the dead.

The authorities said at least 20 people were also injured. Among those killed, 23 people died inside the church, two outside the building and one person died after being transported to a hospital. The ages of the wounded and dead ranged from 5 to 72, the authorities said.

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

Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas, 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, which is northeast of Sutherland Springs, he said. The gunman was found dead in his car, the authorities said.

Law enforcement officials said they are trying to piece together a motive for the attack.

Albert Gamez Jr., a Wilson County commissioner, said it was not clear whether he was killed by the police or he took his own life. Gamez told CNN Sutherland Springs is a small community where everyone knows one another.

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

Hours after the shooting, the one-story rectangular church remained sealed off, with yellow tape posted along the church grounds. Reporters poured into Sutherland Springs throughout the day as the tragedy transformed the once-obscure Texas farming community into the scene of the latest mass killing.

The unincorporated community has a population that numbers in the low hundreds — the 2000 census was 362, according to the Texas State Historical Association. The preliminary death toll would amount to about 7 percent of the population.

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RA

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