Several People Shot At Baptist Church In Sutherland Springs, Texas
According to CBS News, witnesses have reported a shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio, at a Sunday morning service. Reports of how many people have been injured or killed are still preliminary, but some outlets have reported that it could be considered a mass shooting.
UPDATE: More than 20 people have reportedly been killed, the police commissioner confirmed Sunday afternoon, according to the BBC.
Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez, Jr. told NBC News that a single shooter walked into First Baptist Church and opened fire at around 11:30 a.m. during a weekly worship service. Sheriff Joe Tackitt confirmed to local news outlet Wilson County News that there have been "multiple casualties and fatalities."
According Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office spokesman Robert Murphy, the shooter was killed after a brief chase into neighboring Guadalupe County as he tried to flee the scene, though at this point it is unclear if the shooter was killed by police or took his own life.
Reporters and investigators at the scene are still trying to piece together exactly how many people have been shot in what is being described as an "active shooter" incident, but local San Antonio news outlet KENS-5 has reported that a two-year-old was among the victims. The child's condition is unknown.
The Dallas Morning News is reporting that at least six helicopters arrived at the scene to help transport victims to local hospitals, and that there is currently a heavy police presence at the church. Neighbors told the outlet that about 50 people usually attend the baptist church's services.
Witnesses report hearing at least 20 shots fired in quick succession after the gunman entered the church. The FBI Crisis Response Team has been called to the scene, according to Michelle Lee, a spokeswoman for the FBI's San Antonio field office.
Multiple Texas representatives have since released statements to express their condolences to those affected by the tragedy. Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted that his "prayers are with all who were harmed by this evil act," and Texas Representative Joaquin Castro said that he is "monitoring developments" and "praying for the shooting victims."
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement, "The thoughts and prayers of all Texans are with the people of Sutherland Springs as tragic reports come out of First Baptist Church."
Senator John Cornyn tweeted, "Truly heartbreaking news in Sutherland Springs. Please say a prayer for First Baptist congregation, first responders & the community there."
This is the second major mass shooting to devastate the nation in just over a month. In early October, a gunman killed 58 people and wounded over 500 more in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. The gunman unloaded multiple rounds of gunfire on unsuspecting concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip from the window of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel. Despite investigations, a motive for the shooting has still not yet been determined.
As investigators at the scene in the small Texas town, which has a population of under 400, according to the Handbook of Texas, continue to release new details about the incident, the death toll continues to rise.
"First call it was 15, then 24, and now 27," Gamez, Jr. told CBS. "There's still a lot of investigation going on and the details are kind of sketchy."
It is currently unclear if the shooter has been identified, or what his motive may have been. Many friends and family members are reportedly waiting outside of the church to hear if their loved ones are safe.