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Texas gunman kills at least 26 worshipers at small-town church

From Reuters - November 5, 2017

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (Reuters) - A gunman massacred at least 26 worshipers and wounded 20 others at a white-steepled church in southeast Texas on Sunday, carrying out the latest in a series of mass shootings that have plagued the United States, authorities said.

The lone suspect, wearing black tactical gear and a ballistic vest and carrying an assault rifle, opened fire after entering the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs in Wilson County, about 40 miles (65 km) east of San Antonio.

The victims ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old, law enforcement officials said at a news conference.

After the shooting, the gunman, described as a white man in his 20s, was fired on by a local resident. He fled in his vehicle and was later found dead in neighboring Guadalupe County.

It was not immediately clear if the suspect killed himself or he was hit by gunfire by the resident, authorities said.

We are dealing with the largest mass shooting in our states history, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said at the news conference. The tragedy of course is worsened by the fact that it occurred in a church, a place of worship where these people were innocently gunned down.

Neither the suspects identity nor motive were disclosed by authorities.

But law enforcement officials who were not identified have said the gunman was Devin P. Kelley, describe as a white, 26-year-old man, the New York Times and other media reported.

The 14-year-old daughter of pastor Frank Pomeroy was killed, the family told several television stations.

Jeff Forrest, a 36-year-old military veteran who lives a block away from the church, said what sounded like high-caliber, semi-automatic gunfire triggered memories of his four combat deployments with the Marine Corps.

I was on the porch, I heard 10 rounds go off and then my ears just started ringing, Forrest said. I hit the deck and I just lay there.

The massacre comes just weeks after a sniper killed 58 people at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The shootings have stirred a years-long national debate over whether easy access to firearms was contributing to the trend.

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