Texas Church Shootings | KERA News

Texas Church Shootings

In 2012, after Devin P. Kelley was convicted of domestic violence by a military court, Holloman Air Force Base failed to input that conviction into a federal database used for gun-purchase background checks.

The oversight enabled Kelley to buy multiple weapons from licensed gun dealers, which the ATF says were found at the scene after he killed 26 people at a Texas church.

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn announced the release of bipartisan legislation Thursday aimed at strengthening the federal background check database following the recent mass shooting in Sutherland Springs.

Members of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas held their first Sunday service following last Sunday's mass shooting there.

In an emotional sermon, Pastor Frank Pomeroy spoke of the 26 killed on Nov. 5., including his 14-year-old daughter, invoking a sense of both personal and communal loss.

"I know everyone who gave their life that day. Some of whom where my best friends and my daughter. I guarantee they are dancing with Jesus today," said Pomeroy, according to the Associated Press.

The First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs will reopen to the public as a memorial on Sunday, it announced on its website, one week after a mass shooting in the church rattled the small Texas town.

In the past few days, residents have been working as volunteers to restore the church, where a gunman opened fire on a congregation, killing more than two dozen people and wounding 20 others.

In the middle of the showroom at Trey Ganem Designs is a small casket on a rolling cart. It's not yet fully assembled, but it is painted a dazzling, sparkling pink.

The casket is for a little girl – one of the 26 lives lost in Sunday's massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

"Her dad just said, 'That's my princess,' " Trey Ganem says, so Ganem is building her a princess casket to be laid to rest.

Lynda Gonzalez / KUT News

Law officers from across the country came to the Hill Country this week to learn how to respond to active shooters like the one that killed 26 people at a Texas church last weekend.

The leader of the Texas State University program, Pete Blair, says each active shooter situation is different. 

The FBI's failure to unlock the cellphone of the Texas church shooter is reigniting the debate over encryption and government access to secured communications.

Earlier this week, FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs blamed the industry standard encryption for blocking investigators' ability to crack the PIN code on the gunman's device.

Software exists to thwart a passcode, but if forced, investigators run the risk of erasing all of the phone's data. The FBI sent the Texas gunman's phone to its lab in Quantico, Va., to try to determine another method.

Sutherland Springs residents and family members gathered in a football stadium Wednesday night to hear words of support from Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

“Even though anguish and sorrow hang over the community,” Abbott said, “we will not be overcome by evil. Together we will overcome evil with good.”

LYNDA GONZALEZ / KUT

After a tragedy, people often want to find a way to help. And after Sunday’s church shooting in Sutherland Springs, people across the country have been taking action to show their support. But experts say it’s critical to make sure donations go to the people who need them.

Lynda Gonzalez / KUT News

On Sunday, a gunman began firing inside First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, killing young children, teenagers, parents, grandparents and families. 

Twenty-six people, including an unborn child, died and 20 others were wounded. On any given Sunday, about 50 people attend services at the church. 

When a shooter started spraying the inside of a Sutherland Springs, Texas church with bullets on Sunday, 30-year-old Joann Ward "threw her body over the little ones," according to her mother-in-law, Sandy Ward.

The "little ones" who were at church that day were Joann Ward's daughters Rhianna Garcia, 9, Emily Garcia, 7 and Brooke Ward, 5 and stepson Ryland Ward, 5.

Joann Ward, Emily and Brooke died; Ryland was shot several times and remains in critical condition, facing multiple surgeries.

Devin Patrick Kelley, who left 26 people dead after opening fire at a Texas church on Sunday, was captured by police in 2012 after he escaped from a mental health institution. At the time, a hospital official told police that he was a danger to himself and others, and had issued death threats against "his military chain of command."

The incident came shortly after Kelley was placed in pretrial confinement by the Air Force — for what would be months, a U.S. official tells NPR's Tom Bowman — as he waited for his court-martial for assaulting his wife and young stepson.

The man who killed 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday was in a "conflict" with his ex-mother-in-law, Department of Public Safety officials said at a press conference today.

"The shooter was at odds with his in-laws," Texas Rangers Major Freeman Martin said. "There was conflict between the two families."

From Texas Standard.

Sutherland Springs, southeast of San Antonio, has been as quiet as any of the other small communities that dot the landscape of Wilson County. The shooting that took place on Sunday at the First Baptist Church has shocked each one of them.

Nannette Kilbey-Smith, the editor of the Wilson County News and the La Vernia News, says Wilson County is a tight-knit part of rural America with a large veteran community.

From Texas Standard:

A lone gunman killed 26 people and injured dozens more during a Sunday service at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A few miles down the road in the small town of Stockdale, pastors are looking for ways to comfort their congregations: parishioners who are not only grieving for their neighbors, but who may also be concerned that their “sanctuary” is not immune to these horrific events.

President Trump says more thorough vetting for firearms purchases would have made "no difference" in the mass shooting at a Texas church despite reports that the suspect's past conviction on domestic assault charges should have disqualified him under federal law.

At a news conference in Seoul on the second leg of a five-nation Asian tour, Trump was asked by a journalist for NBC if he thought people wanting to purchase firearms should be subject to "extreme vetting."

In the wake of the massacre at a small-town Texas church on Sunday, many people are asking why.

A large portion of the mass shootings in the U.S. in recent years have roots in domestic violence against partners and family members. Depending on how you count, it could be upwards of 50 percent.

The Sutherland Springs, Texas, resident who exchanged gunfire with the suspect in Sunday's mass shooting at a church insists he is not a hero, saying that he was "scared to death" during the encounter.

"I think my God, my Lord protected me and gave me the skills to do what needed to be done," Stephen Willeford, a former National Rifle Association instructor, tells KHBS/KHOG television in Arkansas.

Sutherland Springs, Texas, is a small town.

"They say the population is 400 and that's if you count every dog, cat and armadillo," 75-year-old L.G. Moore told The Associated Press. "It's more like 200 people." He runs an RV park a quarter mile from the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.

Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET

The Air Force says a mistake allowed Devin Patrick Kelley to buy guns. On Sunday Kelley opened fire on a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

The former airman had an assault-style rifle and two handguns — all purchased by him, according to federal officials — when he shot and killed 26 people.

How To Help Victims Of The Sutherland Springs Shooting

Nov 6, 2017
AP via NPR

Texans are helping the victims of the Sutherland Springs shooting through blood donations and also financial donations.

Updated at 10:55 p.m. ET

A "domestic situation" might lie behind the massacre that unfolded at a small South Texas church during Sunday services, authorities say. At a news conference Monday, law enforcement officials explained that the gunman — identified by police as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley — had sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law, who is has attended the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Currently, officials say they do not believe the attack was racially or religiously motivated.

Residents of Sutherland Springs, which is about 40 miles east of San Antonio, gathered for a prayer vigil Sunday night.

Updated at 7:10 p.m. ET Monday

A few details are becoming known about the man who allegedly shot and killed at least 26 people and wounded 20 others Sunday at a rural community church in South Texas.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Freeman Martin says Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, was found dead in a vehicle with two firearms a few miles from where the attack took place. Kelley had crashed his car in a neighboring county after being pursued by two civilians, one of whom had fired on him as Kelley attempted to escape the church.

Updated Monday at 5:10 a.m. ET

Federal authorities are investigating a shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a small community southeast of San Antonio.

In a news conference Sunday night, an official from the Texas Department of Public Safety described the scene: Around 11:20 a.m., a man dressed in black tactical gear approached the church and began firing an assault rifle. He then entered the church and continued firing.

Twenty-six people are dead after a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, about 30 miles east of San Antonio.

Gov. Greg Abbott called it "the largest mass shooting in our state's history."