SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) — A man opened fire inside of a church in a small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than 20 people and wounding others before being “taken down,” authorities said.
CBS affiliate KENS 5, San Antonio reports that the shooting happened at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, which is 30 miles southeast of San Antonio. An official told The Associated Press that more than 20 people were killed in the attack.
Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told the Wilson County News that a man entered the church and opened fire. He said the shooter is now dead.
The gunman has been identified as Devin Patrick Kelley.
KENS reports that it confirmed at the scene that some of the victims were children.
CBS News reported that the 14-year-old daughter of church pastor Rev. Frank Pomeroy was among those killed. The pastor’s wife reported that she and her husband out of town at the time, CBS News reported.
Meanwhile, CBS News’ David Begnaud tweeted that one of the wounded victims was a 6-year-old boy named Rylan, who was shot four times. Ryan’s uncle said the boy was in surgery late Sunday afternoon.
CBS News reported the gunman was shot after a car chase with police. It was not clear whether he shot himself or police shot him.
The pastor from a church down the road spoke to KENS-TV late Sunday afternoon.
“We’re holding up as well as we can. We’re a strong community. We’re strong in our faith, and we’re strong in believing that anyone that was killed in the church there is present with our Lord,” the pastor said.
The pastor said he never expected any such horror to happen in Sutherland Springs.
“This is Sutherland Springs. We’re not even an incorporated city,” he said. “We have a post office over here and a ZIP code, and two gas stations, two churches and a Dollar General.”
He said he found out about the shooting himself while preaching down the road, and first responders immediately went to help.
“I know everybody there,” the pastor said.
Dana Fletcher, a business owner in the area, told CBS News she saw a “ton” of sheriff’s vehicles and ambulances racing down the road. She said she doesn’t know what happened but said there was heavy police presence and people were being airlifted from the scene.
The Connally Memorial Medical Center told CBS News it received multiple victims related to the shooting.
Special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said they were responding to the shooting, CBS News reported.
A law enforcement official said an FBI crisis response team is on scene to offer assistance to local police, CBS News investigative producer Pat Milton reports.
The FBI will be offering evidence recovery, offering to check through databases to see whether this person has any connections to international terror to see if its a terrorist event or a domestic situation, Milton reports. She says officials looking into it but they don’t know the motivation at this point.
President Donald Trump said he was monitoring the situation from Japan in a tweet Sunday.
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted he and his wife, Karen, “send prayers to victims & their families in TX.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) called the reports out of Texas “devastating.”
“The people of Sutherland Spring need our prayers right now,” Ryan tweeted.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also tweeted his condolences to those affected in the incident.
Abbott was headed to Sutherland Springs from Austin late Sunday afternoon.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement Sunday afternoon:
“My heart breaks for the victims of the horrific tragedy in Texas earlier today. These mass shootings have become appallingly and unforgivably common in our society, but we must not become numb to tragedy. We cannot accept mass shootings as part of who we are — this can and must stop. In the memories of those we lost today in Texas, and last month in Las Vegas, and last year in Orlando, and all across this nation, we must come together and say: enough is enough.
“Our hearts break for those men, women and children we lost on this darkest of days, and they break doubly because we have seen this too many times before. I join all New Yorkers in mourning this senseless tragedy.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a tweet reading, “New York City prays for the town of #SutherlandSprings and mourns the tragic loss of life in so sacred a place.”
On Long Island, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and police Commissioner Patrick Ryder offered their “condolences, thoughts and prayers to the victims, their families and to the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas in light of the recent incident.”
While there were no known imminent threats to Nassau County, police there have intensified patrols in all areas of concern.
“We are monitoring this attack along with federal, state, and local authorities,” the Nassau County statement said.
It was not immediately clear if the church was holding services at the time of the shooting.
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