New York Times News Service
Pence in Texas — Vice President Mike Pence pledged Wednesday to residents of Sutherland Springs, Texas, that the Trump administration would “find out why” a gunman was able to buy firearms in advance of his shooting rampage there despite his violent past and would work with Congress “to ensure that this never happens again.”
“Three days ago, evil descended on this small town and on this small church,” Pence said as his stood on the street in front of First Baptist Church, where 26 churchgoers were killed Sunday by Devin Kelley, who should have been barred from purchasing firearms because of a domestic violence conviction while serving in the Air Force.
“He lied on his application. He had a history of mental illness, and there were bureaucratic failures,” Pence said, promising an Air Force investigation of the matter would be completed “in days, not weeks.” Pence said the Pentagon is also reviewing policies on how such convictions get entered into a national database used to screen gun purchasers.
Pence’s visit — which came while President Donald Trump is on a 12-day trip to Asia — also included a hospital visit with some of those injured Sunday, meetings with law enforcement officials and an appearance at a nearby high school where a vigil was being held.
— New York Times News Service
The video makes clear that the masked man clad all in black stormed into the church intent on shooting everyone there — and he nearly did. For several minutes, he fired quickly, pausing only to reload, methodically shooting his terrified victims — including small children — in the head, execution-style.
A video camera captured the bloodbath inside a rural church, law enforcement officials said Wednesday, recording the worst mass shooting in Texas history, which left 26 people dead, 20 wounded, and a small town devastated. That gruesome footage, which state and federal investigators have reviewed, stemmed from the church’s practice of regularly recording its services and posting the videos online.
Law enforcement agencies declined to say whether they would ever publicly release the video, which shows that the shooting lasted about seven long minutes, said an official who was briefed on the matter, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing. The official said the killer, armed with an assault rifle, went to the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs Sunday morning with magazines capable of holding more than 400 rounds of ammunition, but it is not clear how many shots he actually fired.
On Wednesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety released the names of the dead, a cross-section of this unincorporated village of a few hundred people southeast of San Antonio. They included 10 women, seven men, eight children, and the unborn fetus carried by one of the victims, Crystal Holcombe. The youngest of the children was 1; the oldest of the adults was 77.
On Wednesday afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Texas. He was scheduled to visit a hospital in San Antonio, meet with local law enforcement officials and address a prayer vigil near the church.
The gunman, Devin Kelley, 26, was convicted in 2012, while he was in the Air Force, of assaulting his first wife and her toddler son, and he served time in a military prison. Under federal law, that should have prevented him from having firearms, but the Air Force admitted on Monday that it had failed to forward information about him to the national databases used for gun purchase background checks.