By Connor Evans
Around 11:30 on Sunday morning of November 5th, 2017, gunshots were heard during a church service in the town of Sutherland Spring, Texas. A law enforcement official reported that a man entered the First Baptist Church and opened fire on the congregation, killing at least 26 people.
The suspect, CBS News reports, has (as of 9:30 pm) been identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, who is now deceased. Kelley, a white male, formerly U.S. military (dishonorably discharged in 2014) was only 26 years old. Reports place him at a nearby gas station mere minutes before the shooting, dressed in what appeared to be tactical gear. He fled the scene after causing massive loss of life and was pursued by an armed civilian. After a brief chase with law enforcement, Kelley was pronounced dead. A gun wound was found on the shooter’s body though it remains unclear whether this wound was self-inflicted, from a law enforcement officer, or the armed citizen.
CBS reports “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the attack the deadliest mass shooting in his state’s history.”
Within several hours of the tragedy, a large amount of support began to appear across the web and the USA. President Donald Trump offered condolences and regret on television, whilst urging Americans to “pull together.”
It is unclear at this point whether Kelley’s radical action was politically motivated or not, therefore terrorism cannot be ruled yet.
As for the victims, those killed range widely in age: the youngest being 5 years old while the eldest being 72. These were just the fallen. As of Sunday night, there were at least 10 more in critical condition from wounds (including young children). The Pastor of the church, Frank Pomeroy, lost his own daughter in the chaos. Annabelle Pomeroy, age 14, was among the number gunned down during Sunday worship.
The families of these victims gathered in the wake of the violence in the community center next to the church. It is there that they were able to exhibit shock, fear, and an excruciating amount of pain. The community, however, has had itself to lean on, as a neighbor has tried to console neighbor, in an effort to take away a small amount of the pain that had just been inflicted.
This horrific incident marks the 307th “mass shooting” the United States has experienced thus far in 2017. Though the term “mass shooting” does not have an official, universal definition, the popular understanding maintains that a series of 4 or more kills in a select area during a select amount of time qualifies as a “mass shooting”.
It appears that roughly 38 states have experienced a mass shooting already this year. In the coming days, President Trump has stated that the entire country will be “following the developments closely,” and praying for those involved.
As far as background information is concerned, there is not much known at the present time about the shooter’s motive for such a hateful act, though in the coming days more is expected to be uncovered about the origins of this awful travesty.