Sutherland Spring Shooting

On Sunday, November 5th, a mass shooting occurred about 30 miles east of San Antonio, Texas in the small town of Sutherland Springs. This shooting took place at the First Baptist Church. The shooter, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley shot and killed 26 people, while wounding about 20 others. Wilson County Sheriff, Joe Tackitt, said Kelley was armed with a rifle and a handgun during the attack. CNN reported, “Investigators found 15 empty magazines for the rifle, each capable of holding 30 rounds, inside the church.” CNN also reported that he was wearing a ballistic vest, all black, and other tactical-type gear, meaning his intentions and a plan were laid out for this tragedy.
In 2012, Kelley was court-martialed for assault on his spouse and child. He was serving for the US Air Force at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico at the time and was discharged in 2014. He served a year in prison and bought a Ruger AR-556 “assault-type rifle” less than five years later. CNN also stated, “Investigators found indications in Kelley’s social media presence that he was interested in mass shootings, said a law enforcement official. Investigators pieced together from social media and interviews that Kelley had become increasingly obsessed over an unspecified family dispute.” This obsession was found as the motive for this shooting. Kelley’s mental state and access to the weapons he purchased are being questioned. These questions will raise awareness and hopefully bring about new laws to help prevent similar tragedies in the future. President Donald Trump released a statement saying, “This isn’t a guns situation. This is a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very, very sad event. A very, very sad event, but that’s the way I view it.”
A week after the shooting, on Sunday, November 12th, the town gathered for a memorial for the lives lost and the community. The Associated Press reported that because so many people attended the service, the event had to be moved from a local community service center, to a local baseball park, where hundreds were present. To put this attendance into perspective, Sutherland Springs is a very rural community, with a population of only about 600 people. Frank Pomeroy, the church’s pastor said to his fellow mourners at the memorial, “I say we choose light, not the darkness that the gunman did.”