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Sun05Nov TEXAS church massacre by ex USAF nut kills 26

 
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 3:53 pm    Post subject: Sun05Nov TEXAS church massacre by ex USAF nut kills 26 Reply with quote

Investigators hunt for motive in Texas church shooting as the grieving spans generations

By Peter Holley, Kristine Phillips, Mark Berman
November 6, 2017 at 9:06 AM
https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/pos t-nation/wp/2017/11/06/investigators-hunt-for-motive-in-texas-church-s hooting-as-the-grieving-spans-generations/

Law enforcement identified 26-year-old Devin Kelley as the gunman who killed dozens at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., on Nov. 5. (Amber Ferguson/The Washington Post)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Tex. — Investigators on Monday scoured the background of the lone gunman who opened fire on the pews of the First Baptist Church, searching for answers on a possible motive while the stories of those massacred began to emerge.

Authorities said 26 people were killed in the Sunday rampage, the latest eruption of violence in a seemingly safe public space. The dead included eight relatives spanning three generations in a single family. While officials had said the victims ranged in age from 5 to 72, one family said a 1-year-old girl was also killed, one of the eight family members slain in the attack.

The gunman — described as a former member of the Air Force — fired upon the services with a Ruger assault-style rifle before he came under fire from a local man and fled in a car chase. The attacker eventually ran off the roadway and apparently took his own life.

Related: [Death sweeps across 3 generations of a single family gathered at church]

Texas officials early Monday identified the attacker as Devin Patrick Kelley of New Braunfels, about 35 miles north of Sutherland Springs.


Kelley, a 26-year-old former Air Force member, was court-martialed in 2012 and sentenced to a year in military prison for assaulting his spouse and child, making him the latest mass attacker or suspect with domestic violence in his past. He was reduced in rank and released with a bad-conduct discharge in 2014.

Few clues were initially made public on a possible motive or what made Kelley target a church in tiny Sutherland Springs. His in-laws had attended the church at some point, said Joe D. Tackitt Jr., the Wilson County sheriff. They were not present Sunday and only came to the scene later after hearing the news, he said.

“There must have been some reason he came here, but we don’t know,” Tackitt said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) suggested Monday morning that “there may have been a reason why this particular location was targeted,” although he did not go into detail, saying that the details could emerge in the coming hours or days.

“I don’t think this is a random act of shooting, a randomly chosen location, but obviously someone who is very deranged,” Abbott said in an interview on the “Today” show.

As investigators try to determine a motive, they are also probing how the attacker obtained his gun. Kelley had sought a license to carry a gun in Texas but was rejected, Abbott said.

“By all of the facts that we seem to know, he was not supposed to have access to a gun, so how did this happen?” Abbott said in an interview on CNN. “We are in search of answers to these questions.”

Related: [The persistent crime that connects mass shooters and terrorism suspects: Domestic violence]

The attack left a staggering hole in a Texas town of fewer than 700 people located about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio.

“Nearly everyone [inside] had some type of injury,” Tackitt said. “I knew several people in there. It hasn’t really hit yet, but it will.”

Tackitt said the dead were all over the inside of the church. All of the bodies were removed overnight, Tackitt said, and were en route or already at the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s office in San Antonio.

Inside the church, which remained cordoned off, was “a horrific sight,” Tackitt said, adding “you don’t expect to walk into church and find mauled bodies.” Between 12 and 14 of the people killed or injured in the attack were children, he said.

For some, the church massacre also reinforced a sense of unease that no place could be considered immune from possible violence after a concert ground in Las Vegas, a Walmart in Colorado, a Nashville church and a bike path in New York all became scenes of death and bloodshed over the past six weeks.

President Trump appeared to try to preemptively steer the debate away from gun control after the slayings. At a news conference in Tokyo, Trump said he thought “mental health” was a possible motive, adding that it appeared the shooter was “a very deranged individual, a lot of problems for a long period of time.” He did not provide further explanation.

The incident “isn’t a guns situation,” Trump said. Referencing the armed civilian that apparently exchanged shots with the attacker, Trump said: “Fortunately someone else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction” or the rampage “would have been much worse.”

No one inside the church was armed at the time of the attack, the sheriff said Monday, saying he was not surprised by that fact.

“People from this community would never think this could happen,” he said.

Bailey LeJeaune, 17, and David Betancourt, 18, hold candles during a vigil in Sutherland Springs for the victims of a deadly shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., on Sunday. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman/AP/)
Trump’s reaction contrasted with his unrestrained calls for a death sentence for the Uzbek immigrant accused of killing eight people in an apparently Islamic State-inspired attack in Lower Manhattan last week.

Witnesses said the gunman in Texas, dressed in all black and wearing a tactical vest, began firing an assault rifle as he approached the church. Police said the gunman killed two people outside before entering the church and spraying bullets at the congregation during morning worship.

After the exchange of gunfire with an armed civilian, the gunman drove away with two local men in pursuit.

It was “act now, ask questions later,” said the truck’s driver, Johnnie Langendorff. By the time they caught up with him, however, the fleeing man had crashed his SUV into a ditch. “He might have been unconscious from the crash or something like that, I’m not sure,” Langendorff told reporters.

Tackitt, speaking to CBS News, said that after the gunfire and chase, the attacker was found dead. “At this time we believe that he had a self-inflicted gunshot wound, after he wrecked out,” Tackitt said.

Johnnie Langendorff told The Washington Post how he helped race after the shooter who killed dozens of people on Nov. 5 in Sutherland Springs, Tex. (Dina Parkinson/The Washington Post)
The attack targeted young and old, tearing apart families. Joe and Claryce Holcombe lost children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all at once, a total of eight extended family members, the couple said in a phone interview with The Post.

Their son, Bryan Holcombe, 60, and his wife, Karla Holcombe, 58, were killed. Bryan was associate pastor for the church and walking to preach at the pulpit when he was shot, Joe Holcombe told The Post.

Among the dead was also their granddaughter-in-law, Crystal Holcombe, who was pregnant. She died along with her unborn child and three of her children, Emily, Megan and Greg, according to Joe Holcombe. She had been at church with her husband, John Holcombe, who survived along with two of her other children.

Their grandson, Marc Daniel Holcombe, and his infant daughter, who was about a year old, also died, Joe and Claryce Holcombe said.

Kevin Jordan, 30, was changing the oil in his Ford Focus ahead of a family road trip when he heard the pops of gunfire. When he stood up and turned his head, he saw a man wearing body armor, a vest and a mask walk down the sidewalk toward the church about 50 yards from his home.

“He was just spraying at the front of the church,” Jordan said. “He was shooting outside at first, and then he walked to the door and started shooting inside.”

Related: [An unlikely hero describes gun battle and 95-mph chase with Texas shooting suspect]

After spotting the shooter, Jordan said, he ran inside his home, scooped up his son, alerted his wife and rushed his family into their bathroom, where they crouched and hid while calling 911. He said the shooter spotted him as he fled and took a shot that went through his front window, nearly hitting his 2-year-old son.

“I looked at the shooter, and he looked right at me,” he said. When the shooting stopped, Jordan, who works as a medical assistant, ran to the church, hoping to help.

“I walked inside and just walked out. I couldn’t handle it,” he said. “It was bad. A lot of blood and bodies. The pews were knocked over. I’m a medical assistant and medical assisting does not prepare you for this.”

Tucked a few hundred yards off Highway 87 amid scrubby farmland, the dusty and usually quiet streets of Sutherland Springs are lined with modest one-story family homes and trailers. A town with few streetlights that typically goes dark after sundown flashed red and blue with police lights on almost every block.

In a matter of minutes, Sutherland Springs was transformed into the latest community riven by grief after a mass attack. In late September, a masked gunman stormed into a small community church outside of Nashville and shot seven people, including the pastor, killing one. Authorities said the suspect in that shooting, Emanuel Kidega Samson, might have been motivated by a desire for revenge for a 2015 shooting that targeted black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C. — an attack that left nine people dead.

Related: [Trump suggests “mental health” issues, not “gun situation,” at root of Texas attack]

The Texas attack also came just over a month after 58 people were killed at a Las Vegas country music festival, in what was the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history. The gunman in Las Vegas, Stephen Paddock, killed himself after a lengthy shooting spree from his 32nd-floor Mandalay Bay hotel suite, and authorities have still not determined a possible motive.

Frank Pomeroy, the pastor of First Baptist Church, told ABC News that he was not present during the church service but that his teenage daughter, Annabelle Pomeroy, 14, was among the dead.

“She was very quiet, shy, always smiling, and helpful to all,” Cynthia Rangel, 50, a resident of nearby Stockdale, said of the teenager. Rangel, a local emergency medical technician, said she knew three individuals who were hospitalized after the shooting and were undergoing surgery. “This just all seems like it’s not real.”

Dana Fletcher, who owns a business a quarter-mile from the church, said she and her family just moved to Sutherland Springs. She said she was first alerted to the shooting by a call from a reporter.

“My husband and I both are still in shock,” she said. “It’s a little tiny church that was targeted. It’s shocking. It’s a bit frightening because it’s a little bit close to home.”

The church is part of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the country, with about 15 million members. First Baptist reported an average estimated attendance of 100 in 2015. The church is affiliated with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, considered one of Texas’s more theologically conservative groups of Southern Baptists.

Berman and Phillips reported from Washington. Mary Lee Grace in San Antonio; Eva Ruth Moravec in Sutherland Springs; and Wesley Lowery, Brian Murphy, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Ed O’Keefe, Alex Horton, Samantha Schmidt and Devlin Barrett in Washington contributed to this report, which will be updated throughout the day.

Photo Gallery: At least two dozen people are reported dead after a shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., near San Antonio. The gunman was found dead several miles away, officials say.
Tennessee church-shooting suspect had note referencing Dylann Roof attack

Masked gunman rampages through Nashville church; usher uses personal weapon to subdue shooter

Las Vegas shooting motive eludes investigators as new details emerge about gunman Stephen Paddock


Peter Holley is a technology reporter at The Washington Post. He can be reached at peter.holley@washpost.com.

Kristine Phillips is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. Contact her at kristine.phillips@washpost.com.

Mark Berman covers national news for The Washington Post and anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and stories from around the country.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He couldn't kill the mother in law he'd threatened to so he killed her church colleagues. What did she do?
Texas officials say before massacre, gunman had threatened his mother-in-law, who attended the church
By Eva Ruth Moravec, Mark Berman
November 6, 2017 at 1:54 PM
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/11/06/investig ators-hunt-for-motive-in-texas-church-shooting-as-the-grieving-spans-g enerations/

Texas officials say before massacre, gunman had threatened his mother-in-law, who attended the church
By Eva Ruth Moravec, Mark Berman November 6, 2017 at 1:54 PM)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Tex. — The massacre here that killed more than two dozen people — the youngest of them just 18 months old — occurred amid an ongoing “domestic situation” involving the gunman and his relatives, at least one of whom had attended the church, law enforcement officials said Monday.

While authorities have not publicly identified a motive for the attack, they emphasized that the shooting did not appear to be fueled by racial or religious issues, as has been the case involving other rampages at houses of worship. Instead, they said the gunman had sent “threatening texts” to his mother-in-law as part of this ongoing dispute.

“This was not racially motivated, it wasn’t over religious beliefs,” Freeman Martin of the Texas Department of Public Safety said at a news briefing. “There was a domestic situation going on within the family and the in-laws.”

While the gunman’s mother-in-law had attended the church, she was not there Sunday when the shooting occurred, officials said.


Investigators have scoured the gunman’s background since he opened fire Sunday morning inside the First Baptist Church outside San Antonio, searching for clues as the stories of those massacred began to emerge.

Related: [Death sweeps across 3 generations of a single family gathered at church]

There were 26 people killed in the church attack, the latest in a seemingly unending series of mass attacks in supposedly safe public spaces. The dead included eight relatives spanning three generations in a single family. While authorities had said Sunday that the victims ranged in age from 5 to 72, they said a day later that those were the people who suffered injuries and were being treated at hospitals.

“Inside the church, the deceased actually ranged from 18 months to 77 years of age,” Martin said. The family that lost eight relatives said one of them was a 1-year-old girl killed in the attack.

Another 20 people were wounded at the church, 10 of whom remained in critical condition Monday, Martin said.

Texas officials early Monday identified the attacker as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley of New Braunfels, about 35 miles north of Sutherland Springs.

Related: [The persistent crime that connects mass shooters and terrorism suspects: Domestic violence]

They said the former Air Force member shot at the churchgoers with a Ruger assault-style rifle before coming under fire from a local man. Martin praised the efforts of “two Good Samaritans” who responded to the shooting, saying that a resident who lives near the church heard what was happening took his own rifle and began firing at the attacker, hitting him at least once.

Kelley dropped his rifle, jumped in his Ford Expedition and fled, Martin said. “Our Texas hero” flagged down another young Texan, hopped into his vehicle and they chased Kelley, Martin said.


It was “act now, ask questions later,” said the truck’s driver, Johnnie Langendorff.

Related: [An unlikely hero describes gun battle and 95-mph chase with Texas shooting suspect]

During the chase, Kelley called his father on his cellphone to say “he had been shot and didn’t think he was going to make it,” Martin said. Kelley shot himself, though the cause and manner of his death will be determined after an autopsy, Martin said.

Joe D. Tackitt Jr., the Wilson County sheriff, said Monday that though Kelley’s in-laws had attended the church, they were not there during services Sunday, and instead came to the scene after the shooting.

Three guns were recovered Sunday, according to authorities: A Ruger rifle and two handguns, one a Glock and another a Ruger, inside Kelley’s vehicle. He had purchased a total of four guns during each of the last four years, officials said.


Precisely how Kelley obtained his guns remained a key question for investigators. Kelley had been court-martialed in 2012 and sentenced to a year in military prison for assaulting his spouse and child, making him the latest mass attacker or suspect with domestic violence in his past. He was reduced in rank and released with a bad-conduct discharge in 2014.

Kelley had sought and failed to obtain a permit allowing him to carry a concealed weapon, officials said. He had an “unarmed private security license” akin to what a security guard at a concert would have, Martin said.

In televised interviews, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said it appeared the church was intentionally targeted, rather than chosen at random, but said there were “more unknowns than there are knowns” a day after the attack.

“By all of the facts that we seem to know, he was not supposed to have access to a gun, so how did this happen?” Abbott said in an interview Monday morning on CNN. “We are in search of answers to these questions.”



Johnnie Langendorff told The Washington Post how he helped race after the shooter who killed dozens of people on Nov. 5 in Sutherland Springs, Tex. (Dina Parkinson/The Washington Post)
Kelley had worked briefly over the summer as an unarmed night security guard at a Schlitterbahn water park in New Braunfels, the company said. He passed a Texas Department of Public Safety criminal background check before beginning work there, a spokeswoman said, though she added that Kelley was fired in July — as the season was reaching its peak — because he was “not a good fit.”

He was also able to pass a background check that allowed him to work for HEB, a Texas grocery chain, in New Braunfels. Company spokeswoman Dya Campos said he worked there for two months in 2013 and quit; she was unsure of his position there.

The attack on Sunday left a staggering hole in a Texas town of fewer than 700 people located about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio.

“Nearly everyone [inside] had some type of injury,” Tackitt said. “I knew several people in there. It hasn’t really hit yet, but it will.”


Tackitt said the inside of the church was “a horrific sight,” adding: “You don’t expect to walk into church and find mauled bodies.” Between 12 and 14 of the people killed or injured in the attack were children, he said.

Related: [The other deadly church shooting in America on Sunday]

Wearing a crisp white button-down shirt, jeans and a beige Stetson, Tackitt spent Monday morning speaking to reporters about what happened, which he called “part of the job.” He had been at the scene Sunday, returned home just long enough to shower, check in on his family and return to the scene.

Tackitt said he knew people inside the church but had not begun to mourn yet.

The massacre outside San Antonio added Sutherland Springs to the growing roster of places synonymous with a mass tragedy, and it came just a month after 58 people in Las Vegas were gunned down in the country’s deadliest modern mass shooting.

In recent years, gunfire has cut short scores of lives in shootings at movie theaters, concerts, churches, nightclubs, schools and offices. After the church massacre Sunday, officials in some of the places that have endured their own tragedies — including Aurora, Colo.; San Bernardino, Calif.; Orlando; and Las Vegas — issued public statements of mourning for Sutherland Springs, the newest member of this grim fraternity.

Related: [Trump suggests “mental health” issues, not “gun situation,” at root of Texas attack]

President Trump appeared to try to steer the debate away from gun control after the slayings. At a news conference in Tokyo, Trump said he thought “mental health” was a possible motive, adding that it appeared the shooter was “a very deranged individual, a lot of problems for a long period of time.” He did not provide further explanation.

Trump’s reaction contrasted with his unrestrained calls for a death sentence for the Uzbek immigrant accused of killing eight people in an apparently Islamic State-inspired attack in Lower Manhattan last week.

Trump said the Texas incident “isn’t a guns situation,” and added: “Fortunately someone else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction” or the rampage “would have been much worse.”

No one inside the church was armed at the time of the attack, the sheriff said Monday, saying he was not surprised by that fact.

“People from this community would never think this could happen,” he said.


Bailey LeJeaune, 17, and David Betancourt, 18, hold candles during a vigil in Sutherland Springs for the victims of a deadly shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., on Sunday. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman/AP/)
Witnesses and officials said the gunman in Texas, dressed in all black and wearing a tactical vest, began firing an assault rifle as he approached the church. Texas state officials said Monday he was also wearing a black mask with a white skull face on it.

He killed two people outside before entering the church and spraying bullets at the congregation during morning worship, police said. Authorities on Monday said that Kelley was inside for some time.

The attack tore apart families in this small community. Joe and Claryce Holcombe lost children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all at once, a total of eight extended family members, the couple said in a phone interview with The Post.

Their son, Bryan Holcombe, 60, and his wife, Karla Holcombe, 58, were killed. Bryan was associate pastor for the church and walking to preach at the pulpit when he was shot, Joe Holcombe said.

Among the dead was also their granddaughter-in-law, Crystal Holcombe, who was pregnant. She died along with her unborn child and three of her children — Emily, Megan and Greg — according to Joe Holcombe. She was at church with her husband, John Holcombe, who survived along with two of her other children.

Their grandson, Marc Daniel Holcombe, and his infant daughter, who was about a year old, also died, Joe and Claryce Holcombe said.

Related: [‘Evil has invaded sanctuary’: Texas massacre likely the worst church shooting in U.S. history]

Frank Pomeroy, the pastor of First Baptist, and his wife, Sherri, spoke to reporters through tears.

Their 14-year-old daughter Annabelle — known as Belle — was among those killed in her father’s church, although both parents were out of town at the time. But the couple lost much more than their daughter, they said.

“We ate together, we laughed together, we cried together and we worshiped together. Now most of church family is gone,” Sherri Pomeroy said. “Our building is probably beyond repair, and the few of us that are left behind lost tragically yesterday. As senseless as this tragedy was, our sweet Belle would not have been able to deal with all the family she lost yesterday.”

She added: “Please don’t forget Sutherland Springs.”

Berman reported from Washington. Mary Lee Grace in San Antonio; Peter Holley in Sutherland Springs; and Wesley Lowery, Brian Murphy, Kristine Phillips, Alex Horton, Samantha Schmidt and Devlin Barrett in Washington contributed to this report, which will be updated throughout the day.

_________________
--
'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
http://aangirfan.blogspot.com
http://aanirfan.blogspot.com
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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