Sutherland Springs church shooting

Sutherland Springs church shooting
LocationFirst Baptist Church
216 4th Street
Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S.
Coordinates29°16′24″N 98°03′23″W / 29°16′24″N 98°03′23″W / 29.2732; -98.0564a.m. (CST)
Attack type
Mass shooting
WeaponRuger AR-556 semi-automatic rifle
Deaths27 (including the perpetrator and an unborn child)
Non-fatal injuries
PerpetratorDevin Patrick Kelley

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, on November 5, 2017.[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 bystander 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 shot to the head.

The attack was the deadliest mass shooting in Texas and the fifth-deadliest mass shooting in the United States.[2] It was the deadliest shooting in an American place of worship in modern history, surpassing the Charleston church shooting of 2015[3] and the Waddell 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]


A few minutes after 11 a.m. CST, on November 5, 2017, Devin Patrick Kelley arrived in his pearl white Ford Explorer SUV at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. He parked close to the door.[citation needed]

About 11:20 a.m., Kelley stepped out of the SUV, wearing black tactical gear, a ballistic vest, and a black face-mask featuring a white skull,[6] and wielding a Ruger AR-556 semi-automatic rifle. He approached the church from the right, opening fire on and killing two people outside the church and continuing to fire on the building itself. He then entered through a right side door, where worshipers were attending regular Sunday service.[citation needed]

Inside, he yelled, "Everybody die, motherfuckers," as he proceeded up and down the aisle and shot at people in the pews.[6][7] Police found 15 empty magazines capable of holding 30 rounds each.[8][9][10] 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.[11]

As Kelley left the church, he was confronted by and traded fire with Stephen Willeford, a local resident and former NRA firearms instructor[12] who was armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Willeford had taken cover behind a truck across the street from the church and shot Kelley twice, once in the leg and in the upper left torso under his tactical gear.[13][14][15] Kelley, who had dropped his rifle upon the initial fire with Willeford, fired back with a handgun before fleeing in his Ford Explorer. Willeford fired one more round as Kelley sped north on FM 539.[16][17] He then noticed a pickup truck parked at the intersection of 4th St. and FM 539, driven by Johnnie Langendorff.

Willeford approached and entered Langendorff's truck on the passenger side. They then 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).[18] While chasing Kelley, Langendorff called 9-1-1 and reported their location to the operator as 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.[15] He then called his wife and spoke to her and his parents, apologizing for the murders at the church.[19] Bleeding from his injuries, Kelley lost control of his vehicle, hitting a road sign before crossing a bar ditch at the Hartfield/Sandy Elm Road intersection and finally stopping about 30 feet into the field on the opposite side.

Willeford and Langendorff observed that he was motionless, and police took over the scene when they arrived.[20] Police found Kelley dead in his car[21] with three gunshot wounds, including a self-inflicted head wound.[22] Two handguns were found in the vehicle: a Glock 19 9mm and a Ruger SR22 .22-caliber, both of which Kelley had purchased.[23]

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