Texas Governor Greg Abbot said at least 26 people were killed in Sunday’s shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs. The shooter is dead – the exact circumstances are under investigation.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
The First Baptist Church in Sutherlands Springs, Texas is a crime scene this morning. A sniper opened fire there yesterday during Sunday services. Twenty-six people are confirmed dead, many are injured. The shooter was later found dead himself. Joining me now is Russell Lewis from NPR just outside Sutherland Springs. Hi Russell.
RUSSELL LEWIS, BYLINE: Hello.
KELLY: I guess the police just finished a press conference. Can you share the final details?
LEWIS: That’s right. So we learned new details. Police say it was apparently a family situation that the shooter, Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, and his stepmother attended that church. Apparently, he sent her a threatening text message at some point. What’s not clear right now is, you know, were the in-laws inside the church at the time? But they say it’s an internal situation. At least it sort of gives a clearer idea of what happened, but really not the why at the bottom yet.
KELLY: It’s true because until this last press conference, what we knew about him was that he lived nearby but in a suburb of San Antonio but not in this city. Tell us a bit more about his story, military service for example.
LEWIS: Yeah. So he lived about 45 minutes from here, but his military background is that he was in the Air Force from 2010 to 2014, apparently he had some issues when he was in the Air Force. He was court-martialed there for domestic violence, abusing his wife and child. And then he also got a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force for that as well. One of the little bits of information that we learned is that he, in this shooting 24 hours ago here, he had three guns on him. He had an AR military style rifle. Authorities said they also found a 9-millimeter Glock handgun and a 22-millimeter Ruger pistol.
Apparently, according to Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, all of these guns were purchased by him. It is unclear if he was allowed to do so given his release from court-martial and his Air Force misconduct. The ATF official who spoke at that press conference said they were going through documents to try to figure out how he was able to buy it and whether or not he was allowed to buy it.
KELLY: Did the authorities share any more information about the victims, about the people who were inside that church?
LEWIS: No, not really. They said 23 people died inside the church. Two people were killed outside the church, then one person died in hospital. There were accolades for two Samaritans who became involved with the suspect after he was discharged from First Baptist Church here in Sutherland Springs. One of them lived across the street. And hearing the commotion, he took his own gun, got out and engaged with the suspect. Another man got on with this man and chased him at high speed for several miles. And that’s when the accident happened. And officials have said at this point they believe the suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but they can’t say definitively yet.
KELLY: Alright. This is NPR’s Russell Lewis bringing us the latest from this shoot over the past 24 hours in Sutherlands Springs, Texas. Authorities have confirmed that 26 people have died. The victims ranged in age from 18 months to 77 years old. Russell, thank you very much.
LEWIS: You’re welcome.
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