Massacre In Texas: New Details About Heroes, Victims

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas —  (CBS NEWS) Updated 11-7-17 5:15am:

Investigators hone in on motive as man who shot Texas church gunman speaks out

Investigators are closer to learning Devin Kelley’s motive for killing 26 worshipers during Sunday services at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. They say just before the massacre, Kelley sent threatening messages to a church member, his mother-in-law.

People gathered Monday night in Sutherland Springs for a vigil for those killed. Among the crowd were the two men responsible for chasing Devin Kelley from the scene.

Monday night, police said they recovered 15 30-round capacity magazines at the scene. All of them were spent. One man may have prevented the suspect from firing even more bullets, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor.

Stephen Willeford, who ran out of his house barefoot, shot at the gunman and forced him to flee is being hailed as a hero.

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Stephen Willeford

 KHBS

“I’m no hero. I am not. I think my God, my lord, protected me and gave me the skills to do what needed to be done. And I just wish I could’ve gotten there faster,” Willeford said.

Willeford is friends with many of the congregants at First Baptist Church.  So every shot he heard Sunday morning, he says, likely represented the life of someone he knew.

“We exchanged gunfire, and I know I hit him. I don’t know where I hit him,” Willeford said.

After the gun battle, gunman Devin Kelley fled the scene with Willeford in pursuit.  During the chase, the 26-year-old suspect called his father to say he didn’t think he was going to make it.

According to Willeford, the suspect’s car eventually flipped off the road. By the time police arrived, Kelley was dead.

“He sustained three gunshot wounds. Two gunshot wounds were from the armed citizen and he had a third gunshot wound consistent with being self-inflicted,” said Freeman Martin of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Cellphone video shows the chaos that spilled onto the front lawn of the church minutes after the shooting spree. Twenty-three people were killed inside the sanctuary, two outside and a third died at the hospital.

The suspect was estranged from his current wife Danielle Shields. His mother-in-law, a member of the church, received threatening texts from him, but was not present at the time of the shooting.

“There are many ways that he could have taken care of the mother-in-law without coming with 15 loaded magazines and an assault rifle to a church. I think he came here with a purpose and a mission,” Martin said.

But among the dead was his wife’s grandmother, 71-year-old Lula White.

On Monday, deputies blocked the entrance to the last place Kelley lived, a large house registered to his parents about 30 miles northeast of San Antonio.

He worked as an overnight security guard at this resort in New Braunfels, Texas. Resort manager Claudia Varjabedian says the day before the shooting, he left work early complaining of a headache.

“We thought he just didn’t show up for work on Sunday and then about 5:30 my maintenance manager said have you not been watching the news? And I turned it on and that’s when we found out about him,” Varjabedian said.

Investigators recovered three of the suspect’s guns. Two of them were purchased in San Antonio, including a Ruger AR-556 rifle. Another handgun was bought at a gun shop in Colorado Springs.

(CBS NEWS) Trump: Stricter gun laws could’ve meant “hundreds more dead” in Texas

Last Updated Nov 7, 2017 6:49 AM EST

SEOUL — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that stricter gun control measures might have led to “hundreds” of additional casualties during a mass shooting at a south Texas church.

Mr. Trump says at a news conference in South Korea that, “If you did what you’re suggesting, there would have been no difference three days ago and you might not have had that very brave person who happens to have a gun or a rifle in his trunk.”

He’d been asked whether he would support “extreme vetting” for gun purchases like he’s called for for people entering the country.

Mr. Trump said if local resident Stephen Willeford — who grabbed his own rifle and exchanged fire with Kelley — didn’t have a gun, “instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead.”

“So that’s the way I feel about it,” Mr Trump said, reiterating his stance that any hypothetical new gun control legislation is “not going to help.”

Before giving his answer, President Trump said it was still “too soon” after the tragedy to be discussing measures to prevent mass shootings.

Mr. Trump has said since he was on the campaign trail in 2016 that he believes the way to prevent mass shootings in the U.S. is by better addressing mental health issues.

On Monday, Mr. Trump said the Texas massacre was a “mental health problem,” not a “guns situation.”

Authorities say Devin Patrick Kelley fired at least 450 rounds of ammunition at worshippers in Sunday’s attack at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. The dead ranged in age from 18 months to 77 years old.

The gunman who killed 26 people at a small town Texas church was able to buy weapons because the Air Force did not submit his criminal history to the FBI as required by military rules.

The Air Force acknowledged Monday that if the past offenses by Devin Patrick Kelley had been properly shared, they would have prevented him from buying a gun.

In 2014, Kelley was formally ousted from the Air Force for a 2012 assault on his ex-wife in which he choked her and struck her son hard enough to fracture his skull.


(CBS NEWS) Texas church shooting victims: Pregnant mother, children among lives lost

Last Updated Nov 7, 2017 2:45 AM EST

A small town is reeling in the wake of a shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where at least 26 people died and at least 20 others were injured Sunday.

A pregnant mother and young children are among the dead.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the attack the deadliest mass shooting in his state’s history and President Trump called it an “act of evil.” Officials said 23 people were found dead inside the church, two outside, and one died after being taken to a hospital.

The gunman has been identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley. A motive has not been revealed as the investigation continues, but President Trump has said it was “a mental health problem of the highest degree,” and not a “guns situation.”

CBS affiliate KENS-TV writes that some residents don’t know if their family members are injured, at the hospital, or deceased. The station adds that some family members’ cars — which have been in the church parking lots since Sunday morning — were still there Sunday night.

Although officials have not released all the names of the 26 people killed, some details are emerging about the victims. Officials said the ages of those shot range from 18 months to 77 years.

Here’s what we know so far:


Annabelle Pomeroy

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Annabelle Pomeroy

 FACEBOOK

Annabelle Pomeroy, the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, was one of the victims killed in the shooting, her mother, Sherri Pomeroy, told CBS News via text message.

“My husband and I were ironically out of town in two different states. We lost our 14-year-old daughter today and many friends,” she said Sunday.

She added, “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.”


Robert and Shani Corrigan

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Shani and Robert Carrigan

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CBS News affiliate WNEM-TV reports Robert Corrigan and his wife, Shani, were among the victims killed in the attack, according to the Clare County Director of Veterans’ Services Renee Haley.

Robert was an Air Force retiree.

“This is a huge tragedy, not only for the family, for this small town,” Haley said.

The Michigan couple is survived by their two sons, who are currently placed on active duty. Reuters adds that the couple graduated from Harrison High School in Farmington Hills, Michigan, lived in Floresville, Texas.


Ward family

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Joann Ward

 REUTERS

Emily Garza, who was just 7 years old, died in Sunday’s attack. She was shot and underwent surgery, but succumbed to her injuries.

A relative, Leslie Ward, told the Dallas Morning News that her mother Joann is among the dead. Joann’s husband is Chris Ward. A friend confirmed Joann’s passing on Facebook by writing, “Is it possible to physically feel your heart break??”

Two of the Ward’s 5-year-old children were hit Sunday.

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Brooke Ward (bottom L), Emily Garza (top C), Ryland Ward (bottom R)

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Brooke Ward was killed and Ryland Ward was struck four times by gunshots and was recovering from surgery, CBS News’ Michelle Miller reports.

An 8-year-old sibling, McKinley Ward, hid under the church pews during the shooting, Miller reports. The gunman’s bullets shot the glasses off her face.


Holcombe family

Handout photo of Bryan Holcombe and his wife Karla Plain Holcombe

Bryan Holcombe and his wife Karla Plain Holcombe

 REUTERS

Eight members of the extended Holcombe family were killed in the shooting.

The Associated Press reports Crystal Holcombe and her in-laws Karla and Bryan Holcombe died in Sunday’s attack. Crystal was eight months pregnant. Bryan was filling in as pastor on the day of the attack, CBS News’ Michelle Miller reports.

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Crystal Holcombe

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Bryan and Karla’s son, Marc Daniel Holcombe, was also killed with his 1-year-old child, Noah Holcombe, according to Miller.

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Marc Daniel Holcombe

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Three of Crystal’s children —  Megan, Emily and Greg Hill — were among the dead, AP reports, and her husband John lost his brother and a toddler niece. John survived.

Miller reports that Crystal posted regularly about her kids’ accomplishments.

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Pictured are three Holcombe children who died.

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Earl Seesengood is a close family friend who spoke to CBS News.

“It is hard to stop and think about it, because the magnitude of the loss of some people is just unfathomable,” Seesengood said.

Nick Uhligh, a cousin, told the AP that Bryan Holcombe did prison ministry with the church, and that he would go to the prison with a ukulele and sing to the inmates. AP adds that Nick didn’t attend the church Sunday because he was out late the night before.


Lula White

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Lula White

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CBS News has confirmed that Lula White, the 71-year-old grandmother of the gunman’s estranged wife Danielle Shields Kelley, was among those killed.

The Reuters news agency states that White’s niece Amy Backus wrote on Facebook: “I have no doubt where she is right now. She is in Heaven laying her crowns and jewels at the feet of Jesus and celebrating.” Backus added: “I love and will miss you Aunt Lula Woicinski White.”


Tara Elyse McNulty

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Tara Elyse McNulty

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Reuters writes that McNulty was at the church Sunday with her two children who were wounded but survived, according to a GoFundMe account created by a friend who called McNulty “a great employee.”

“She was conscientious, engaging, and always willing to do the little things,” Woodall wrote. “She was a sweet, kind and loving woman, mother and daughter and will be greatly missed by many.”


Sunday’s attack occurred on the eighth anniversary of the Nov. 9, 2009 massacre of 13 people at the Fort Hood Army base in central Texas, the Reuters news agency points out. The suspect in that incident was convicted and awaits execution.

It comes two and a half years after another horrific church shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, when a white gunman killed nine black parishioners in a racially motivated attack. The  gunman in that case was also convicted sentenced to death.

 

 

 


Original Post:

(CBS NEWS) 26 dead in shooting at church in Sutherland Springs, Texas — live updates.

Monday Morning Portland’s Morning News talked with Bill O’Neil, News Director of our sister station KTSA in San Antonio.

A couple hours later we got an update from Bill about possible motives and the good guys who stepped up to help.

What we know:

  • A gunman opened fire inside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday
  • At least 26 people were killed and 20 injured in the attack
  • Information on the victims is emerging, including the pastor’s young daughter
  • The suspect has been identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, who is deceased
  • Trump says shooting a “mental health problem,” not a “guns situation,” but cops give no motive

 A gunman opened fire inside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday, killing 26 people and wounding 20 others, authorities said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the attack the deadliest mass shooting in his state’s history. Officials said 23 people were found dead inside the church, two outside, one died after being rushed to a hospital.

The shooting suspect has been identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, federal law enforcement sources told CBS News.

On Sunday night, authorities only identified the suspect as a young white male. They said he was seen dressed in all black and tactical gear — including a “ballistic vest” — at a local gas station at 11:20 a.m. He then exited his vehicle, crossed the street and began firing an AR-15 style weapon at the church, officials said. The suspect entered the church and continued to fire.

As he exited the church, a local resident grabbed his gun and pursued the suspect, who dropped his weapon and fled the scene.

The suspect was later found dead inside his vehicle. Officials are unsure if he was shot by a resident or suffered a self inflicted gunshot wound, said Freeman Martin, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Kevin Jordan, a resident who lives near the church, told CBS affiliate KENS-TV he witnessed the deadly shooting and saw a resident pursue the gunman. “If it wasn’t for him, the guy wouldn’t have stopped,” he said.

Jordan described the resident who confronted the suspect as someone who would do anything for anyone. He said he watched the resident shoot at the suspect while taking cover behind a vehicle.

Video from KENS-TV showed first responders at the scene, located about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio.

Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek said in a statement that Kelley is a former U.S. Air Force member who served from 2010 to 2014. Records confirm Kelley previously served in logistics readiness in New Mexico until his discharge in 2014, Stefanek said.

Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 for two counts of assault on his spouse and assault on their child, Stefanek said. He received a bad conduct discharge and confinement for 12 months.

Officials have not released all the names of the 26 people killed, but said they ranged from 5 to 72 years old.

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 CBS NEWS

Annabelle Pomeroy, the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, was one of the victim’s killed in the shooting, her mother, Sherri Pomeroy, told CBS News via text message.

“My husband and I were ironically out of town in two different states. We lost our 14-year-old daughter today and many friends,” Pomeroy said Sunday.

She added, “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.”

At least two other victims had been identified Monday morning, but there were still people whose condition and whereabouts were unclear.

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Annabelle Pomeroy, 14

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Dana Fletcher, a business owner in the area, told CBS News she saw a “ton” of sheriff’s vehicles and ambulances racing down the road. She said she doesn’t know what happened but said there was heavy police presence and people were being airlifted from the scene.

Special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said they were responding to the shooting.

A law enforcement official said an FBI crisis response team is also at the scene assisting local police, CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton reports. She says officials are trying to determine a motive for the shooting.

President Trump, who is on his first presidential trip to Asia, addressed the situation from Tokyo, calling it a “horrific shooting” and an “act of evil.”

“Victims and their families were in their sacred place of worship. We cannot put into words the pain and grief we all feel,” Mr. Trump said in televised remarks. “In dark times such as these, Americans do we what do best and we pull together. We lock hands and we joins arms. Through the tears and through the sadness we stand strong.”

May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan.

Mr. Trump pledged his full support to the state of Texas and the local communities affected by Sunday’s attack.

“We offer our thanks to the first responders, to the FBI, all of the many people involved. I will continue to follow the developments closely. All of America is praying to God.”

In remarks early Monday morning, alongside his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, Mr. Trump said it appeared that “mental health is the problem here. This was a very, based on preliminary reports, very deranged individual, a lot of problems over a long period of time.”

It was not clear what mental health issues Mr. Trump may have been referring to in the suspect’s past, as law enforcement officials had yet to offer any insight into Kelley’s suspected motive.

“But, this isn’t a guns situation, we could go into it, but it’s a little soon to go into it,” added Mr. Trump, without further clarification.

Late Sunday evening, around 100 people gathered near the church to remember the victims who were innocently gunned down earlier in the day.

Gov. Abbott attended the vigil and met with community members in the midst of the tragedy.

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott comforts a local resident during a candlelight vigil held on Sun., Nov. 5

Above portion of story courtesy of CBS News. Read more from AP:

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (AP) –

*UPDATE as of 7:30 pm local time*

Authorities say 26 people were killed and about 20 others wounded in the attack in Sutherland Springs.

A U.S. military official says the suspect identified in the mass shooting at a Texas church was a former Air Force member who was stationed in New Mexico at one time.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek says records confirm that Devin P. Kelley served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge. The date of his discharge and the circumstances under which he left the service were not immediately available.

The Pentagon also confirmed that Kelley was an airman “at one point,” but didn’t provide additional details.

More than 100 people gathered after dark on a grassy street corner within sight of the church where the shooting occurred for a prayer vigil.

Attendees, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, lit candles while some wept and others hugged Sunday night. They could see the church sign lit up and emergency lights flashing.

The vigil across the street from a gas station convenience store where law enforcement officials say the shooter stopped before the attack.

Mike Gonzales, who does not attend the church but lives near says: “The people of this church are wonderful people.” Gonzales added, “We’re coming together to pray for them and show the world that now, in the midst of darkness, there is light.”

*UPDATE as of 2:25 pm local time*

A spokeswoman say the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is sending special agents from field offices in Houston and San Antonio to the site of a church shooting in South Texas.

ATF spokeswoman Mary Markos did not immediately have further details.

A sheriff says that a man walked into the church and started firing. Authorities say the attacker is dead.

The number of fatalities or injuries hasn’t been confirmed by authorities, but a Wilson County commissioner, Albert Gamez, has told cable news outlets that he was told it was more than 20 killed and 20 wounded, though those figures aren’t confirmed.

One hospital about 10 miles from the shooting says there “multiple” victims with gunshot wounds are being treated.

Connally Memorial Medical Center spokeswoman Megan Posey declined to say how many patients were being treated at the hospital, but said the number was less than a dozen. The hospital is in Floresville, Texas.

 

*UPDATE as of 2:15 pm local time*

A County Commissioner in Texas says he’s been told that more than 20 people were killed and more than 20 were wounded in an attack at a church, though he says those figures haven’t been confirmed.

Albert Gamez, a Wilson County commissioner, made the comments to cable news outlets after the attack Sunday at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, a small community 30 miles southeast of San Antonio.

 

*UPDATE as of 1:20 pm local time*

A sheriff says a man walked into a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and started shooting, leaving multiple people dead.

The Wilson County News reports that Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt said the shooter has been taken down. It wasn’t immediately known how many people were killed and wounded or who carried out the attack.

First responders converged on the church in the small town southeast of San Antonio and helicopters are taking victims to hospitals.

Sutherland Springs is a community of about 400 people 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of San Antonio.

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