As it happened: The deadliest Texas shooting in history

As it happened: The deadliest Texas shooting in history
Photo credit: Newshub.

7:30pm - 'No way' for church victims to escape


A sheriff says there was probably “no way” for churchgoers to escape from the Sutherland Springs shooting.

Wilson County sheriff Joe Tackitt told the Associated Press that the shooter fired several shots outside before he entered the Sutherland Springs church and walked toward the front of the congregation. Tackitt says the gunman then turned around, opening fire on his way back out the front door.

“I don’t think they could have escaped. You’ve got your pews on either side.”

5:30pm - One family loses three members in shooting

Michael Ward told The Dallas Morning News that his brother Chris lost his wife and his two daughters in the massacre.

Joann Ward and her daughters Brooke (5) and Emily (7) were killed in the shooting.

Joann’s five-year-old son Ryland is in a serious condition after sustaining four gunshot wounds. He is out of surgery at University Hospital in San Antonio.

4:45pm - Trump orders flags to be flown at half-mast

President Donald Trump has ordered that the American flag be flown at half-mast at the White House and all public grounds to honour the victims of the Sutherland Springs shooting. 

The death toll currently stands at 26.

4:30pm - Passerby describes chasing the fleeing gunman

An interview with a passing motorist has shed light on the dramatic chase that led shooter Devin Patrick Kelley to police and his death.

Johnnie Langendorff told local TV station KSAT 12 that he and a member of the Sutherland Springs community pursued the gunman as he fled in a car and alerted police to the chase.

I pulled up to the intersection where the shooting happened. I saw two men exchanging gunfire, the other being the citizen of the community. The shooter of the church had taken off, fled in his vehicle, the other gentleman came and said we need to pursue him. And that’s what I did, I just acted.

I didn’t know him (the community member) at all, I didn’t recognise him. He was just a member of the community and he came to my vehicle in distress with his weapon. He explained very quickly what happened. He got into the truck and I knew that it was time to go.”

Langendorff said the gunman quickly left the scene, but the pair soon caught up with him.

He got a little bit of a jump on us. We were doing about 95(mph) down (route) 539 going around traffic and everything. Eventually he came to a kind of a slow down and after that we got within just a few feet of him and then he got off the road.

He just lost control. That is when I put the vehicle in park and I was still on the phone to dispatch. The other gentleman jumped out and has his rifle drawn on him. He didn’t move after that.

We led police to him. Everybody else was headed to the church, all the other officers were responding to the church. From the time we actually stopped it was about 5 to 7 minutes.

Langendorff said they pointed a gun at the suspect’s car while they waited for police to arrive.

We did not get close enough. The police arrived and then they pushed us back and they took care of the rest I didn’t see anything after that.

I was trying to get him, to get him apprehended. It was strictly just acting on what the right thing to do was.”

4pm: AR-15 weapon of choice for mass shooters

Law enforcement officials have said that the gunman used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. The same gun was used at the Las Vegas, Sandy Hook and Orlando nightclub shootings.

The AR-15, which is based on military-grade weapons, is highly customisable. Some modifications or firing techniques can allow the weapon to mimic an automatic rifle.

3:30pm - Texas attorney general wants church-goers armed

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton has stirred up controversy by saying the shooting means congregations should be armed.

"In Texas at least we have the opportunity to concealed-carry. And if it is a place where somebody had the ability to carry there is always the opportunity that a gunman can be taken out before he has the opportunity to kill very many people," he says.

"We have had shootings at churches forever, this is going to happen again. And so we need people in church to do… professional security or at least arming some of the parishioners or the congregation so that they can respond when something like this happens again."

3:15pm: Police visit gunman's house

Police are at the address listed by the shooter as his home address.

3:00pm - Family nearly completely wiped out by killer

CNN's Gustavo Valdes is at a vigil near the church, and has been talking to a man whose cousin missed the service, but didn't escape tragedy.

"His pregnant wife, she was carrying an eight-month-old baby, she's dead. Her parents are dead, and three of the five children they had are also dead. One of them is struggling to save her life in a local hospital."

2:30pm - Shooter had served in the US Air Force

The Pentagon says the church shooter had previously served as an airman in the Air Force "at one point".

They were unable to provide additional details on his service.

2:10pm - Barack Obama speaks out

Former US President Barack Obama has called for action to reduce gun violence in America.

1:50pm - Crowds gather at scene of shooting

People have gathered near the church as darkness falls in Texas.

1:30pm: Donald Trump reacts

US President Donald Trump has discussed the shooting on his second day in Tokyo.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families," he said.

"In dark times Americans do what they do best, we pull together, we join hands, we lock arms and, through the tears and through the sadness, we stand strong, oh so strong."

12:45pm - Texas Governor speaks out

Texas Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference to update media and public on the situation.

"As a state we are dealing with the largest mass shooting in our state's history," he said.

Authorities are still in the process of identifying bodies, and next of kin have not yet been notified. Governor Abbott reported 26 dead while many media outlets are reporting 27. 

The ages of the deceased range from five years old to 72 years old. 

Those in hospital have injuries ranging from minor to severe. 

Governor Abbott did not name the suspect himself, but confirmed the shooter was wearing a bulletproof vest with tactical gear when he stormed into the church and opened fire before fleeing. 

Some churchgoers escaped while the shooting occurred. 

According to CNN, a local resident shot at and pursued the shooter before he was found dead in his vehicle. It is not yet known whether the shooter killed himself or was killed by the pursuer.



12:36pm - Officials searching shooter's home

The San Antonio Police Department is sending a K9 unit to Kelley's home, local media reports.

11:59am - Identity of shooter released

Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, has been named by media as the man who opened fire on a Texas church, killing 27 and injuring dozens. He allegedly has a military background. 

11:43am - Authorities know identity of shooter

Authorities have preliminarily identified shooter as a white male in his mid-20s from outside San Antonio. They have not yet released his name to the public. 

11:16am - Six-year-old in surgery

A second victim has been named as six-year-old Rylan, who was shot four times and is now in surgery, his uncle told CBS News.

10:43am - Pastor's daughter killed 

Frank Pomeroy, the pastor of First Baptist Church, has confirmed to ABC News his 14-year-old daughter Annabelle was killed in the shooting. He was in Oklahoma at the time.

Mr Pomeroy told ABC News every one of his family's close friends is among the deceased. 

10:35am - Children among victims of church shooting

Children, including a two-year-old, are believed to be among those who were shot. 

10:16am - Church service on when shooter entered

A church service was taking place at 11am on Sunday (local time) with a Sunday school at 9:45am (local time) when the shooter came in at around 11:30am and opened fire. 

9:57am - 20 shots fired, gunman killed after short pursuit 

Witnesses say around 20 shots were fired. Police have not confirmed the exact number.

According to police, the gunman was killed after a short pursuit following the shooting. It's unclear whether police shot him or if he killed himself. His name has not yet been released.

9:36am - Families pray outside the church as they await news about loved ones

9:27am - Fifth deadliest US mass shooting in last 50 years

With at least 27 dead, this shooting is the fifth deadliest mass shooting in the United States in the last 50 years. It comes just five weeks after the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history shook Las Vegas, with 58 people killed. 

9:22am - US President Donald Trump has commented on the shooting

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has also shared his prayers and thanks to law enforcement.

9:07am - Witness reports

A local gas station owner has told CNN the shots fired "sounded like a semiautomatic weapon".

Dana Fletcher, a business owner in the area, told CBS News she saw people being airlifted from the scene.  

9:04am - Sutherland Springs is a small town, at least 4% of population killed

Sutherland Springs is a small community south east of San Antonio.
Sutherland Springs is a small community south east of San Antonio. Photo credit: Google Maps

8:57am - Death toll reaches 27, at least 24 injured

Officials have confirmed to CNN that 27 people have died following the shooting, with at least 24 injured. 

8:48am - Texas county commissioner estimates 24 dead

A gunman has opened fire at a church in Texas.

Texas county commissioner told NBC News "there are a lot of fatalities", estimating 24 dead.

The incident happened at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, a small community south east of San Antonio.

Around 50 people usually attend Sunday services, according to local reports. 

Sheriff Joe Tackitt has confirmed "multiple casualties and fatalities".  

Local media claims a two-year-old is among the shooting victims.

It is understood the shooter has been killed.

Witnesses reported seeing a man walk into the church at around 11:30am (local time).