At least 27 people have been killed after a masked gunman began openly firing on church-goers at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The police commissioner at the scene, which is about 30 miles east of San Antonio, confirmed that 27 people have been confirmed dead as of now, some reports have confirmed one of the people shot was a two-year-old child.
The shooter, whose identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley from New Braunfels, Texas, was killed after a brief chase with local police, however it is not clear yet whether or not he was shot by police or took his own life. One of the witnesses, a cashier at a local gas station, said that she heard about 20 gunshots one after another at 11:30 a.m. local time.
Wilson County Commissioner told reporters, "We never think where it can happen, and it does happen. It doesn't matter where you're at. In a small community, real quiet and everything, and look at this, what can happen."
Joseph Silva, who lives in Sutherland Springs, told reporters that he, his family, and his neighbors were instructed to stay inside by local officials. "There are a number of individuals just weeping and just wanted to know what’s happened to their loved ones,” he said. “Everybody is pretty grief-stricken. Everyone’s worried."
A number of state-wide and federal officials have responded to the massacre over Twitter. Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a statement shortly after news of the shooting began to develop. He tweeted his regards to those involved in the shooting, and issued the following:
Texas legislators, including John Cornyn and Ted Cruz also spoke to the victims and their loved ones, reminding the public that they will be praying for all those involved.
Donald Trump, as he makes his way around Japan, also responded to the tragedy via Twitter. Vice President Mike Pence says he'll be sending prayers to the victims and their families.
Texas, one of the gun-hubs of the United States, has the more-guns-more-safety mantra embedded into the psyche of most of its residents. However when you digest the fact that this is the second mass shooting to occur in just over a month, the 'more guns make environments safer' argument is null and void. Thoughts and prayers have never been enough, they will not be there to stop atrocities like this one from occurring, and the second those words are muttered, from politicians and from media outlets, actionless responses to real epidemics are propagated.