Tragedy at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs is deadliest US church attack since 1963.
During its 11 a.m. worship service, a Southern Baptist church in rural Texas suffered not only America’s latest mass shooting but the deadliest at a US church in more than 50 years.
At least 26 worshipers, ranging in ages from 5 to 72, have died from First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, according to Texas authorities. YouTube videos of the church’s weekly service indicate that recent Sundays have drawn about 50 to 75 attendees.
Among the victims, 23 died inside the rural church’s small sanctuary, 2 outside the church, and one later while receiving treatment. Another 20 worshipers were injured. The shooter was identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, of New Braunsfels, Texas, about 35 miles away.
The Texas tragedy is only the 14th mass murder at an American house of worship since 1963, according to statistics compiled by church security expert Carl Chinn. It is also the deadliest shooting in the Lone Star State, taking place on the anniversary of the Fort Hood shooting that killed 13 people on an Army base in 2009.
Texas governor Greg Abbott said, “The tragedy of course is worsened by the fact that it occurred in a church, a place of worship, where these people were innocently gunned down.”
“The death toll will mark this as the worst [church shooting] in US history,” Chinn told CT. Fewer than 40 percent of church attacks happen during Sunday worship or other official church events; however, Chinn said the ones that occur during services tend to be worse.
Kelley entered the church shortly after the service began. According to reports, he wore black ballistic gear and carried a Ruger military-style rifle.
A pastor of a neighboring church told TV reporters that he knows most of the church’s …