SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, US: A gunman shot and killed more than two dozen people and injured many others Sunday inside a small community church here in South Texas, and he was found dead several miles away from the scene after fleeing, authorities said.
“At this moment in time, there are 26 lives that have been lost,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said during an early evening news conference. “We don’t know if that number will rise or not, all we know is that’s too many and this will be a long, suffering mourning for those in pain.”
According to a statement from the Texas Department of Public Safety and Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt, officials were called to the church for reports of a gunman at 11:20 a.m.
Officials said that the suspect – who they said was a young white male in his 20s – began firing a Ruger assault rifle outside of the church and then entered the building as he continued to fire. Authorities said that as the gunman exited the church he was confronted by a local citizen who, armed with his own weapon, began firing at the gunman – prompting the suspect to flee in his vehicle.
“The local citizen pursued him,” said Freeman Martin, a regional director for the Texas Department of Public Service, who said the gunman crashed off of the roadway about 11 miles north of the shooting scene. “We don’t know if it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound or if he was shot by our local resident who engaged him in a gunfight.”
Twenty-three people were found dead inside of the church building, two people were shot and killed outside, and one additional person died at an area hospital, authorities said.