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What We Know About Sunday's Texas Church Shooting

  • VOA News

The scene of a shooting is cordoned off with crime scene tape at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Nov. 6, 2017.

Key facts about Sunday's shooting at a Texas church, where 26 people were killed and 20 others wounded:

Motivations for attack

The shooter, 26-year-old Devin Kelley, was allegedly motivated by a domestic dispute. Police say Kelley had sent "threatening texts" to his mother-in-law before launching the attack at the First Baptist Church. Police said the mother-in-law had attended the church, but was not there Sunday. "This was not racially motivated ... wasn't over religious beliefs. There was a domestic situation going on within the family and in-laws," Texas Public Safety official Freeman Martin said.

Victims

The dead ranged in age from 18 months to 77 years of age, including three generations of one family. Investigators say they believe Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his car after fleeing the church.

Brandy Jones prays in front of 26 crosses erected near the site of the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland, Texas, Nov. 6, 2017.
Brandy Jones prays in front of 26 crosses erected near the site of the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland, Texas, Nov. 6, 2017.

Domestic violence

Kelley served in the U.S. Air Force from 2010 to 2014, but was court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his wife and child, sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, and then dishonorably discharged from the military. Texas Governor Greg Abbott told CBS News, "It's clear this is a person who had violent tendencies, who had challenges. Someone who was a powder keg waiting to go off."

Good Samaritans

Police say two bystanders responded to the shooting, including a resident who lives near the church and heard what was happening. They say the neighbor took his own rifle and began firing at the attacker, hitting him at least once. Martin praised the efforts of "two Good Samaritans," which also included Johnnie Langendorff who was driving by the church and heard the gunfire. Langendorff, along with the neighbor with the rifle, pursued Kelley in his car until he crashed into ditch.

Assault rifle, handguns

Texas authorities rejected Kelley's bid to get a license to carry a gun in the state, but police say Kelley carried out the attack with a Ruger 556 assault rifle. In addition, two handguns were found in his car. A U.S. Air Force official told VOA that Kelley lost his gun ownership rights when he pleaded guilty to and was convicted of the domestic violence charges.

Trump reaction

U.S. President Donald Trump, traveling in Asia on a five-nation trip, said the Texas shooting "isn't a guns situation" but "a mental health problem at the highest level. It's a very, very sad event." He said the shooter was "a very deranged individual."

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