A man dressed in black tactical-style gear and armed with an assault rifle opened fire inside a church in Sutherland Springs, Tx., a small community 30 miles from San Antonio on Sunday, killing 26 people and wounding about 20 others before being killed or killing himself, the Associated Press reports. The episode was called the worst killing in a house of worship in U.S. history. The gunman was identified as Devin Kelley, 26, an Air Force veteran from nearby New Braunfels, Tx., He was court-martialed and dishonorably discharged in May 2014. One official said Kelley’s in-laws have attended the church occasionally. The gunman fled in a vehicle after the attack and was killed, either by a self-inflicted wound or during a confrontation with police. Federal law enforcement swarmed the small community 30 miles southeast of San Antonio to offer assistance, including firearms investigators and members of the FBI’s evidence collection team.
A cashier at a gas station across the street from the First Baptist Church said she heard about 20 shots being fired in quick succession while a church service was underway around 11:30 a.m. local time, CNN reports. Among those killed was the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy, and his wife, Sherri. The elder Pomeroys were out of town in two different states when the attack occurred. Alena Berlanga, a Floresville resident who was monitoring the chaos on a police scanner and in Facebook community groups, said everyone knows everyone in the sparsely populated county. “This is horrific for our tiny little tight-knit town,” she said. Everybody’s going to be affected and everybody knows someone who’s affected,” she said.