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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 24, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

National Recap: Texas gunman kills 26 churchgoers

Twenty-six people were killed in a shooting at a church near San Antonio on the morning of Nov. 5, according to local officials.

A gunman entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, during Sunday morning services at about 11:30 a.m. The shooter was killed while being chased in nearby Guadalupe County, according to Guadalupe County Sheriff Robert Murphy. It is unclear whether the shooter was killed or if he took his own life, Murphy said to CNN.

The gunman has been identified as 26-year-old Devin Kelley, a former logistical readiness airman for the Air Force. Kelley had been charged with assault on his spouse and assault on their child while stationed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico in 2012. He had been sentenced to 12 months of confinement and reduction to the lowest possible rank and was later discharged from the Air Force for bad conduct.

Kelley was charged with domestic violence against his child after he cracked his stepson’s skull. The charge had the potential to bar Kelley’s ability to buy a rifle, but the Air Force admitted on Nov. 6 — a day after the shooting — that it failed to put that information into the federal database used for background checks.

President Donald Trump, who is currently on a tour of Asia, tweeted in response to the news of the shooting, saying, “May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan.” Later, when a journalist asked him about the shooting in a press conference, Trump said that the shooting was not about a gun control issue, but rather “a mental health problem at the highest level.

Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, also responded to the shooting by tweeting, “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.

The shooting in Sutherland Springs comes just 35 days after the shooting in Las Vegas, where gunman Stephen Paddock killed 58 people. According to analysis of data from the FBI done by USA Today, mass shootings are happening about every two weeks in the U.S.

Meaghan McElroy can be reached at mmcelroy@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @meaghan_mcelroy