26 dead in Texas church shooting, with children among the victims

Worshipers had filed in for their weekly song and prayer service at First Baptist Church Sunday when a man clad in black, wearing a tactical vest and carrying an AR-15-style assault rifle, pulled into the parking lot, got out and opened fire. Soon the man made his way inside, and kept shooting, and shooting, and shooting.

But this was Texas. As the gunman exited the church, a neighbor with a gun opened fire on him, forcing the attacker to drop his weapon and flee in his SUV. The neighbor and another bystander in a truck followed in hot pursuit until the gunman drove off the side of the road, mortally wounded — perhaps by one of the neighbor’s bullets, or perhaps by his own.

It was too late. Back in Sutherland Springs, a rural suburb 35 miles southeast of San Antonio, 26 churchgoers were dead and 20 more were wounded in the deadliest mass shooting in the modern history of Texas.

The victims included women and children who were targeted without remorse, including the daughter of the church’s preacher. The victims’ ages ranged from 5 to 72 years old.

Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who was briefed by investigators. “There’s going to be some sort of nexus between the shooter and this small community.… Somebody in that church will help us find answers.”

The attack reopened the emotional wounds of a nation only five weeks removed from the Las Vegas massacre of Oct. 1 that left 58 dead, with the two tragedies seemingly showing that there’s no city too big or too small to become a potential target.

The death toll in Sunday’s shooting surpassed Texas’ previous deadliest, a 1991 massacre in Killeen that left 23 dead. The top five deadliest shootings in modern American history have now all come in the last 10 years.

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