SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas – More than 10 children and a pregnant woman were among the 26 fatalities in the largest massacre in Texas history at the First Baptist Church in the small town of Sutherland Springs, southeast of San Antonio.
Although the authorities have not put out an official list of the people killed by shooter Devin Kelley, relatives and friends have been confirming their loved ones’ deaths to local media.
Among those who lost their lives is church pastor Frank Pomeroy’s 14-year-old daughter Annabelle. The pastor was on a trip with his wife to Oklahoma at the time of the shooting.
Kelley, 26, used an automatic rifle to fire indiscriminately into the congregation both inside and outside the small church, not only killing 26 people but wounding another 20, 10 of whom are in critical condition in nearby hospitals.
The tragedy hit the local Holcombe family especially hard, with eight family members from three generations losing their lives in the massacre.
One of the family members, Bryan Holcombe, 60, was the associate pastor at the church on Sunday morning and was getting ready to take the pulpit about 11:30 am when Kelley opened fire, as his parents told local media after their son’s death had been confirmed.
Losing her life along with Bryan was his wife Karla, 58, and one of their children, Marc Daniel, 36.
Marc Daniel’s 1-year-old daughter Noah was also killed.
Another son of Bryan and Karla, John, survived the attack, but his eight-months-pregnant wife Crystal and three of their five children died.
The shooter’s victims ranged in age from 17 months to 77 years, according to several reports, indicating that Kelley did not appear to target anyone in particular in the congregation but simply wanted to wreak as much havoc as possible on whoever was present.
Other victims included 13-year-old Amanda Mosel; Joann Ward, 30, and two of her daughters, Brooke, 5, and Emily, 7.
Police said Monday that Kelley opened fire on the churchgoers for personal reasons, a “domestic situation” involving his former in-laws and ex-wife, who attend the First Baptist Church although they were not at the service on Sunday.
Investigators have concluded that there was no racial or religious motive for the shooting, and that Kelley was not a terrorist, officials said.
Kelley was confronted and shot by an area resident as he left the church, managed to drive away and committed suicide as he was being chased by two civilians, police said.
The shooting is the worst mass shooting in the state’s history, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said.
Kelley, a former US Air Force member who was court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his then-wife and child, recently had sent threatening texts to his former mother-in-law, police said.