On November 5, 2017, a 26-year-old man later identified as Devin Patrick Kelley entered a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, a Texas town just outside of San Antonio, and killed at least 26 people in the attack. The shooting began shortly after the Sunday morning service opened at 11 AM. Victims were of very varied backgrounds, from kindergarteners to the elderly. In addition to the 26 dead, the wounded also totaled in the 20s. Kelley died after being chased away from the area by armed locals.
According to police, it is believed Kelley was first spotted at a gas station across the street; he then proceeded to drive across towards the church. From there, he exited the car and began shooting from outside the church, but he quickly entered the church from the right side and continued firing bullets. He was wearing a ballistic vest and used a military styled rifle of the Ruger brand to carry out the attack in the rural location. He also carried multiple rounds of ammunition for the attack. Once Kelley exited, a neighbor fired at Kelley, although Kelley was able to enter his vehicle and flee. From there, several others began giving chase into the adjacent Guadalupe County, where Kelley crashed and passed away.
The FBI and the Texas Rangers are currently working in a joint investigation to determine what motives Kelley would have for the attack. Kelley was a former Air Force officer who lived in the Texas town of New Braunfels, where he grew up. He served the armed forces in New Mexico, but was court martialed in 2012 after being charged with assaulting his wife and child. The Air Force eventually discharged him in 2014 on the grounds of inappropriate conduct.
The first reaction from U.S. President Donald Trump, who was in the middle of his tour of Asia, came during a press conference in Japan, wherein he called the shooting a “mental health situation”, calling Kelley a “very deranged individual”. Texas Governor Greg Abbott expressed his condolences and publicly asked for “God’s comfort, for God’s guidance and for God’s healing for all those who are suffering.”
The timing is eerie, as this Sutherland Springs shooting occurred on the eighth anniversary of the infamous Fort Hood shooting, where 13 people were killed at a Texan military base. Some have also drawn comparisons between this shooting and that perpetrated by Dylann Roof in a Charleston, South Carolina Episcopal church, although that was later determined to be fueled by white supremacist ideology, whereas the church targeted by Kelley has a Caucasian majority in its membership.