SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Tex. – At least 20 churchgoers were killed and 20 others wounded when a gunman walked into the First Baptist Church in this tiny South Texas community during Sunday service, firing randomly at the congregation.

Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt said the shooter was shot to death. No immediate motive was given for the mass murders, which occurred one month after a gunman killed 58 people at a Last Vegas music festival.

The random shootings occurred at 11:30 a.m., a half-hour after the start of church’s Sunday service.

Sutherland Springs is located along U.S. Highway 87 about 25 miles southeast of San Antonio. It is an unincorporated community of 400 people. The church is just off the highway.

Helicopters and ambulances evacuated the victims to nearby hospitals, including the Brooke Army Medical Center. First responders from several towns were quick to the scene.

County Commissioner Paul Pheil said he was told at least 20 people had been killed and a like number wounded, several of them critically.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott described the shootings as an “evil act” in a tweet. Congressman Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, called the tragedy “terrible.” Both urged prayers for the victims and their families.

Agents from the FBI and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the scene, assisting the Texas Rangers and the sheriff’s office in the investigation.

President Donald Trump tweeted from Japan, where he is on a 12-day Asian trip, that he’s monitoring the situation.  “May God be w/the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas,” he said. 

Contact Jeff Cali by email at jcali@theadanews.com.

This Week's Circulars

Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.