Pence in Texas for prayer service as church shooting victims identified
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas, USA – Vice President Mike Pence met with survivors and victims' families in Texas Wednesday, November 8, as officials identified those killed in a mass shooting at a rural church, including 8 children.
They were among the 26 killed when Devin Patrick Kelley sprayed the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs with bullets during Sunday service last weekend.
Pence was to attend an evening prayer service with the grieving community, to be held at an open-air high school football stadium.
A long line of people waited to clear security to enter the stadium hours in advance, while some huddled and prayed in the parking lot.
Video of the attack, captured by a camera that recorded services for online posting, showed Kelley deliberately executing people, according to The New York Times, citing an unnamed law enforcement official.
The attack lasted approximately seven minutes and the gunman methodically shot his victims, including children, in the head, according to The Times.
Seven children died at the scene, and seven-year-old Emily Garcia died later at a hospital, police said.
Multiple members of families were killed, including three generations of the Holcombe family – one-year-old Noah Holcombe the youngest among them.
The unborn child of Crystal Holcombe, who was pregnant, was also listed among the dead.
"Regarding our baby, we don't know if it was a boy or a girl. It was too soon to tell," John Holcombe said in a Facebook statement. He thanked well-wishers for their "love, prayers and support."
Kelley had a history of violence and mental health problems, and had been discharged from the military after serving a year in prison for domestic abuse.
He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head following a brief car chase with two men who were hailed as heroes for confronting him. One of the men shot and wounded Kelley outside the church.
The mass shooting prompted renewed calls for stricter gun control measures. Texas has some of the most permissive gun laws in the country.
"We must begin the process of dealing with gun violence, and we must do it today," Texas state legislator Nicole Collier said at a news conference, calling for hearings to address the issue. – Rappler.com