Joe Tackett, the Wilson County Sheriff and the Texas Department of Public Safety, said 26 people were killed and 20 others injured when a gunman stormed a church in rural Texas with a rifle this morning.
Authorities said the victims were between 5 and 72 years old. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott described the shooting today in Sutherland Springs, about 40 miles southeast of San Antonio, the largest mass shooting in Texas history.
Authorities said the alleged shooter, a 26-year-old man, also died after the First Baptist Church massacre, bringing the total number of dead to 27.
The Public Security Department said the attack began at around 11:20 am, after a suspect was seen at the Valero gas station in Sutherland Springs, completely dressed in black. The authorities said that the suspect crossed the street to the church, got out of his car and started shooting at the church.
The authorities said that the suspect then moved to the right side of the church and continued firing before entering the church, firing more.
Authorities said that when the suspect left the church, a resident grabbed his rifle and clashed with the suspect, after which he threw his assault rifle and fled.
The authorities said that a citizen chased the suspect.
The suspect, who fled in a car, crashed and was later found dead in his car in Guadalupe County, according to the Sheriff and the Public Safety Department. Officials said at a press conference this afternoon in Stockdale City Hall, near the church, it was unclear if he died of his gunshot wounds or whether someone else shot him.
The authorities said that multiple weapons were found in the vehicle, adding that the suspect was wearing a tactical-type jacket and was wearing a bulletproof vest.
Wilson County District Attorney Audrey Gossett said the threat is believed to have passed.
Authorities did not discuss the motive at this afternoon’s press conference.
Among the dead was a 14-year-old girl named Annabelle Renée Pomeroy, according to her father, Frank Pomeroy, a pastor at the church.
“Annabelle was a very beautiful and special child,” Pomeroy told ABC News by phone.
Pomeroy said he was in Oklahoma this morning, a rare weekend that was not at church.
He said the other victims were all close friends.
Last Sunday, Pomeroy gave a sermon in the church, encouraging parishioners to “lean on the Lord”, even when the circumstances did not make sense.
He said: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not depend on or depend on your understanding.” “You see that understanding God is much greater and there may be things happening that you do not understand but you still need to do what God calls you to do.”