At least 27 people were killed after a gunman opened fire on worshipers at a church near San Antonio, Texas, during the Sunday service before fleeing into a neighboring county. The gunman’s motive remains unclear.
The horrifying incident took place in Sutherland Springs, which is about 30 miles east of San Antonio, and saw the shooter open fire on congregants at the First Baptist Church, CNN reported. Witnesses reported upwards of 20 gunshots in rapid succession at around 11:30 am local time.
While the official death toll has not yet been released and may rise, at least 27 people were killed and another 10 were wounded. According to Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr., a lone gunman walked into the church and immediately opened fire.
“My heart is broken,” Gamez said. “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.”
Over 100 family members flocked to the Sutherland Springs Community Building near the church to await news of their loved ones, many of whom were still unaccounted for in the wake of the chaos following the shooting.
“My dad saw the gunman run into the church building and then he heard shots and saw people running,” 26-year-old David Flores told CNN. “People covered in blood and screaming. It was pandemonium everywhere.”
“Looking around, it’s very sorrowful and the pastors from all the local churches right now are just trying to console everyone,” he recalled. “There were several children injured. I know three, personally, who are in critical condition.”
Among the victims killed in the attack was the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy. Neither he nor his wife, Sherry Pomeroy, were at the church when the shooting occurred.