Sutherland Springs church shooting

Sutherland Springs church shooting
Location First Baptist Church
216 4th Street
Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S.
Coordinates 29°16′24″N 98°03′23″W / 29°16′24″N 98°03′23″W / 29.2732; -98.0564
Date November 5, 2017 (2017-11-05)
11:20 a.m. ( CST)
Attack type
Mass shooting
Weapon Ruger AR-556 semi-automatic rifle
Deaths 26 (excluding the perpetrator)
Non-fatal injuries
20
Perpetrator Devin Patrick Kelley

On November 5, 2017, a mass shooting occurred at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of the city of San Antonio. [1] The gunman, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley of nearby New Braunfels, killed 26 and injured 20 others. He was shot twice by a male civilian as he exited the church. Fleeing in his SUV, Kelley crashed after a high-speed chase and was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds, including a self-inflicted head shot.

This was the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in Texas, the fifth deadliest mass shooting in the United States, [2] as well as the deadliest shooting in an American place of worship in modern history, surpassing the Charleston church shooting of 2015 [3] and the Waddell, Arizona Buddhist temple shooting of 1991. [4]

Kelley was prohibited by law from purchasing or possessing firearms and ammunition due to a domestic violence conviction in a court-martial while in the United States Air Force. The Air Force failed to record the conviction in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Crime Information Center database, which is used by the National Instant Check System to flag prohibited purchases. The error prompted the Air Force to begin a review. [5]

Shooting

At approximately 11:20 a.m.  CST, Devin Patrick Kelley exited from a vehicle at a gas station across the street from the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs wearing black tactical gear, a ballistic vest, and a black face-mask featuring a white skull, [6] and wielding an AR-15 pattern Ruger AR-556 semi-automatic rifle. [7] [8] [9] He immediately fired in the direction of the church. [10] He crossed the street and approached the building from the right while firing, and continued to fire while entering the church building with worshipers attending regular Sunday service. [11] Inside, he yelled, "Everybody die, motherfuckers," as he proceeded up and down the aisle and shot at people in the pews. [6] [12] Police found 15 empty AR-15 magazines capable of holding 30 rounds each. [13] [14] [15] According to investigators, the shooting was captured on a camera set up at the back of the church to record regular services for uploading online. The footage shows Kelley methodically shooting the victims, pausing only to reload his rifle. [16]

As Kelley left the church, he was confronted by local resident and former NRA firearms instructor Stephen Willeford, [17] armed with an AR-15 pattern semi-automatic rifle. Willeford took cover behind a truck and shot Kelley twice. [18] [19] [20] Kelley dropped his rifle and fled in his Ford Explorer as Willeford fired several rounds through the vehicle's window. [21] [22] Willeford flagged down a passing pickup truck driven by Johnnie Langendorff, and they pursued Kelley at high speed for about five to seven minutes. According to Langendorff, they drove at speeds up to 95 miles per hour (155 km/h). [23] While chasing Kelley, the men called 911 and reported their location to the operator; they assumed that the police were on their way to the church. During the chase, Kelley called his father to tell him that he was injured and thought that he would not survive. [20] Kelley lost control of his vehicle, and it hit a road sign and flipped before landing in a bar ditch in Guadalupe County, near the city of New Berlin. [24] [25] [26] [27] Willeford and Langendorff observed that he was motionless, and police took over the scene when they arrived. [28] Police found Kelley dead in his car [25] with three gunshot wounds, including a self-inflicted head wound. [29] Two handguns were found in the vehicle: a Glock 9 mm and a Ruger .22-caliber, both of which Kelley had purchased. [30]

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