At least 27 people are reported to have died after a shooter opened fire on a Texas church during a Sunday service. The massacre happened at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs in Wilson County.
Police believe only one shooter was involved and it’s understood they are dead – with no early indication of motive.
Police official Albert Gamez Jr has told CBS: “The details are kind of sketchy but what I know right now, what they’re telling me, like 27 deceased and over 20, 25 injured. They’re talking about the shooter is dead also.”
Local police are coordinating with FBI agents at the scene, as paramedics treat those injured in the attack.
The shooter was killed after authorities chased them into neighboring Guadalupe County – however it’s unclear whether they took their own life, or died after a shootout.
Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr has told CNN: “My heart is broken. We never think where it can happen, and it does happen. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. In a small community, real quiet and everything, and look at this, what can happen.”
A witness added to those words, telling MSNBC: “I never thought it would happen here. This is something that happens in a big city. I would never have thought this would have taken place here. It’s just too tight a community. It doesn’t make sense.”
According to the New York Times, the estimated population of the town is in the low hundreds, with the most recent figure being 362 in 2000. An attack like this would send shockwaves through any community, but one still small will be hard to reconcile for many of the locals.
US President Donald Trump has tweeted, saying: “May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan.”
His sentiments have been echoed by Texas governor Greg Abbott, who wrote on social media: “Our prayers are with all who were harmed by this evil act. Our thanks to law enforcement for their response.”
Witnesses say the shooter walked into the church and opened fire on people around 11:30, half an hour after Sunday service began. Several hospitals in the local area have been accepting the wounded, however it’s not yet clear how many people were injured in the attack.