A man opened fire inside a church in a small South Texas community on Sunday morning, killing 26 people and wounding approximately 20 others before he died.
Law enforcement authorities have not released the gunman's name. But two officials — one a U.S. official and the other in law enforcement — identified the suspect to the Associated Press as Devin Kelley. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the investigation.
The U.S. official says Kelly lived in a suburb of San Antonio and that he doesn't appear to be linked to organized terrorist groups. The official says investigators are looking at social media posts Kelley may have made in the days before Sunday's attack, including one that appeared to show an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon.
Kelly is described as a white male, believed to be in his 20s.
At a late afternoon press conference, authorities released details about the shooting, but as Freeman Martin, the Texas Department of Public Safety's regional director, said, "If you came here wanting to know the motive behind this shooting, you're going to leave here disappointed."
Martin says that at 11:20 a.m., the shooter parked at a Valero gas station in Sutherland Springs. Dressed in all-black, tactical gear that included a ballistic vest, he exited his vehicle and began firing at the First Baptist Church as he walked across the street.
The suspect continued firing as he moved to the right side of the church and then as he went inside.
As he left the church, a local resident grabbed his rifle and fired at the shooter.
The suspect dropped his Ruger AR assault-type rifle and fled in his vehicle. The resident pursued him.
A short time later, as law enforcement responded, the suspect ran off the road at the Wilson/Guadalupe county line.
Law enforcement officers found him dead in the vehicle. They don't know if it was due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound or he was shot by the resident who had engaged him.
Authorities say they haven't completely identified the suspect because they are working on processing his vehicle, where they found multiple weapons.
They also haven't released any names of victims because they are still processing the crime scene and because they want to talk to families first.
Martin said that of the 26 people who died (a number that does not include the shooter), 23 were found dead inside the church, two were found dead outside the church and one person died after being transported to the hospital.
The 14-year-old daughter of the church's pastor, Frank Pomeroy, was among those who were killed.
Her mother, Sherri Pomeroy, said in a text message: "We lost our 14 year old daughter today and many friends. Neither of us have made it back into town yet to personally see the devastation. I am at the charlotte airport trying to get home as soon as i can."
It was unclear if the church was holding services at the time of the shooting.
Local television station KSAT reported that eight survivors were taken to Brooke Army Medical Center via medical helicopter.
The shooting occurred on the eighth anniversary of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting — the deadliest mass shooting on an American military base — but authorities don't know whether there's any connection between the two events.
On Nov. 5, 2009, Major Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army psychiatrist, shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others at the military base near Killeen, Texas.
At the Sunday afternoon press conference, Texas Governor Greg Abbott had few answers he could offer.
He said authorities don't know whether the shooter was involved with any militia groups but they are looking into it. They are also examining his social media postings. In addition, they don't know whether the shooter was known in the community community or an outsider.
Sutherland Springs is a small town with a population of just 400 people, about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio.
Law enforcement officials from several agencies including the FBI, the Texas Rangers, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the DPS are investigation the tragedy.
"They are continuing in their efforts to put the pieces together," Abbott said.
He emphasized that they have a long road ahead of them as they investigate multiple crime scenes and angles: inside the church, outside the church, the suspect's vehicle, his residence, his background and interviews with survivors.
In Los Angeles, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck offered his condolences:
The First Baptist Church often recorded its services. This is one of them although not the one that was held this Sunday morning.