SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX — Tragedy in South Texas where a gunman walked into a church and opened fire, killing more than 20 people. Dozens more are injured
The shooter was killed after a brief chase north into neighboring Guadalupe County, according to Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Robert Murphy. It is unclear if the shooter was killed by police or took his own life, Murphy said.
The FBI is responding to the scene of the shooting, according to Michelle Lee, spokeswoman for the FBI’s San Antonio field office.
Local police also have responded to the scene, which occurred at the First Baptist Church, a witness told CNN. The witness, a cashier at a gas station across the street from the 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.
Sutherland Springs is in Wilson County, about 30 miles east of San Antonio.
Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. told CNN that multiple people were killed and numerous people were injured in Sunday’s shooting.
“My heart is broken,” Gamez said. “We never think where it can happen, and it does happen. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. In a small community, real quiet and everything, and look at this, what can happen.”
A law enforcement source told CNN that a man walked into the church and began shooting about 11:30 a.m. local time. Agents from the San Antonio field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are en route to the scene, the source said.
A small community, devastated
About 100 family members of victims have gathered inside the Sutherland Springs Community Building next to the church, waiting for news of their loved ones, 26-year-old David Flores told CNN. Local law enforcement, the FBI and the Red Cross are also at the community center.
“My dad saw the gunman run into the church building and then he heard shots and saw people running,” Flores told CNN. “People covered in blood and screaming. It was pandemonium everywhere.”
“Looking around, it’s very sorrowful and the pastors from all the local churches right now are just trying to console everybody,” said Flores when asked to describe the scene inside the community center.
“There were several children injured,” he said. “I know three, personally, who are in critical condition.”
The Connally Memorial Medical Center in nearby Floresville, Texas, is “accepting and assessing victims” from the Sutherland Springs church shooting, according to hospital spokeswoman Megan Posey. The number of victims is unknown at this time.
At least 8 patients are being treated at University Hospital in San Antonio, according to spokeswoman Leni Kirkman, who added the situation is still active and the hospital may receive more patients.
A spokesman for Brooke Army Medical Center also confirmed to CNN that the facility has received patients from the shooting, but the spokesman didn’t have a specific number.
Dana Fletcher, who owns a business down the road from the church, told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield that Sutherland Springs is a “very small” but “very tight-knit community.”
“There’s two gas stations, the church, a community center, post office, a Dollar General, a tire shop,” she said. “That’s about it.”
Officials react to the news
“May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas,” tweeted President Donald Trump, who is in Japan on his first trip to Asia as president.
US Senator John Cornyn of Texas called the news “truly heartbreaking” in a tweet Sunday. “Please say a prayer for First Baptist congregation, first responders & the community there,” he said.
“While the details of this horrific act are still under investigation, Cecilia and I want to send our sincerest thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected by this evil act,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in a statement Sunday. “I want to thank law enforcement for their response and ask that all Texans pray for the Sutherland Springs community during this time of mourning and loss.”