During a Sunday morning church service, a gunman opened fire. Initial reports said 16 were shot. Now it appears as many as 27 may have been killed. “Multiple casualties and fatalities” have been confirmed by the local sheriff, Joe Tackitt. Witnesses state a man “in full gear” entered the church before 11:30am local time. According to local reports, at least 50 people were in attendance during the service.
As reported by The Daily Mail, the incident took place at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Texas, just east of San Antonio.
While police have yet to confirm the total number of victims, witnesses attest that as many as 20 shots were fired by the gunman.
According to local authorities, the shooter, who has not been identified, reportedly fled the scene, leading to a high-speed chase. He has been confirmed dead, though details about how he died have not been released. There is no longer an active shooter threat.
Neighbors of the church state the shooter may have reloaded multiple times. A witness also said that a two-year-old was shot during the attack, though the child’s condition is not known at this time.
At least six helicopters were spotted in the area transporting victims to area hospitals. An “ambu-bus,” an emergency vehicle capable of transporting multiple victims, also reported to the scene, according to local reporters.
The ATF is responding to the incident and reporting to the scene along and members of the FBI has also been reported. Social media accounts show a substantial police response in the area.
Reports on social media suggest the suspect, alleged to be male, may have had an assault rifle, though this has not been confirmed by local authorities.
First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs is located in a small town that, according to Heavy, has recent population figures showing only 362 residents.
Social media reports also suggest that some nearby buildings may have been damaged, including one post that stated the suspect “started shooting in our town church and even shot my brothers house.”
Videos on social media show witness and family members of those in the church coming together to pray “for the safety of all of those involved.”