More Than 20 Reported Dead After Gunman Opens Fire In South Texas Church
Updated at 4:48 p.m. CT
Federal authorities are responding to a shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a small community southeast of San Antonio. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has tweeted that special agents from its San Antonio field office have been dispatched to the scene.
A man walked into the church during a service late Sunday morning and "began firing," the local Wilson County News reports, citing county Sheriff Joe Tackitt. The paper notes that Tackitt "confirmed there were multiple casualties and multiple fatalities."
David Martin Davies of Texas Public Radio told NPR's Noel King that more than 20 people are dead, including the shooter. The AP reports that the pastor's 14-year-old daughter is among the dead.
"This is a blue jeans and working boots kind of church," Davies said. "It's a big part of the community."
"While the details of this horrific act are still under investigation, Cecilia and I want to send our sincerest thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected by this evil act," Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. "I want to thank law enforcement for their response and ask that all Texans pray for the Sutherland Springs community during this time of mourning and loss."
"It's a small Baptist church. It's an older building," one witness who works nearby told MSNBC, adding that she heard "semiautomatic gunfire" from her vantage point about 150 yards away.
"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."
Local media report that law enforcement has closed off the the scene, where emergency vehicles line the streets and witnesses have told of several helicopters overhead. FBI agents have also arrived at the church.
President Trump says he is "monitoring the situation from Japan."
"May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas," Trump tweeted. "The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene."
This is a developing story. Some things that get reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.