26 Dead After Deadliest Place of Worship Shooting in American History in Sutherland Springs, Texas

In Sutherland Springs, Texas, members of the First Baptist Church had their lives changed forever after a gunman attacked during their service. Devin Patrick Kelley, a 26-year-old male from New Braunfels, Texas, used an Ruger AR-556 and opened fire on the church, shortly after their 11 A.M. service began. Now, families begin to put their lives back together. However, the small community is now in a state of fear.

Sutherland Springs, Texas is a small town with a population of about 300. They have a tight-knit community and it is a place where everyone knows everyone. This shooting has taken away about 7 percent of their population, with nearly half of the deceased being children, and ages of those killed ranging from 18 months old to 77 years old. It is a heartbreaking time for this small community, and they will need the prayers and continued support of our nation. Wells Fargo and a local bank have partnered to funnel donations from across the country to help these families put their lives back together.

Kelley, the gunman, was not from Sutherland Springs. His town of New Braunfels is over 30 miles away. Kelley’s mother-in-law was a regular attendant at the First Baptist church that Kelley attacked. Kelley sent deadly threats to his mother-in-law.

Before the shooting, Kelley stopped at a gas station just across from the church. He drove to the church after leaving the gas station, exited his truck, and began shooting from outside of the church, killing three people to begin his terror. He then entered the church and continued firing from his Ruger AR-556, with multiple rounds at his disposal, and a ballistic vest plant – which causes onlookers to believe this shooting had been premeditated. When Kelley finished shooting and killing 26 people, he walked back outside and was met by a legally armed townsman, Jonnie Langendorf, who fired at Kelley, hitting him with a few shots. Kelley took off from the scene, the resident firing at Kelley, Jonnie Langendorf, with his own assault rifle called a friend to help him chase Kelley to a nearby county where he ended up crashing his vehicle. Jonnie commented in an interview that he was going 95 mph while chasing Kelley. It is unknown what caused Kelley’s death. Investigators are stating that the shooter “may have” committed suicide before he was found. The Sheriff stated that the “gunman had a self-inflicted gunshot wound.” Officials later reported that Kelley’s self-inflicted wound was to the head. This shooting is the most deadly in Texas’ history of mass shootings. It is also the deadliest mass shooting in a place of worship in American history.

Devin Kelley Shooter First Baptist Church Texas
Devin Kelley


Devin Kelley cover photo
Devin Kelley with a rifle as his Facebook cover photo


Jonnie Langendorf - Chased Devin Kelley and Shot Him
Johnnie Langendorf – Chased and Shot Shooter


This incident brings back memories of shootings that have occurred in churches within the last ten years. Some with plain motives, and others with unknown motives. With Kelley sending “threatening texts” to his mother-in-law who frequently attended the church but was not present at the massacre, the motivation for the attack is being regarded as “a domestic situation.” He was a married man, who seems to have had a good childhood, and he served in the United States Air Force, making many wonder how he could have committed such a crime. Officials have confirmed that it was not racially or religiously motivated. Other mass shootings in the past 10 years have not all had motive behind them, of course, there must be some idea the individual has who shoots at innocent people of why they are doing that.

This will stir up conversations about whether or not someone should be allowed to own an Ruger AR-556. Kelley had a Glock nine millimeter, Ruger .32, and the Ruger AR-15. He chose to take the Ruger AR-15 out of his car because that would gain him the most lives. These weapons are useless without a person holding and firing them, however, they are ending up in the wrong hands. Some have suggested only allowing the public to purchase handguns to limit the amount of casualties, instead of numerous casualties from assault weapons. As demonstrated here, individuals who are unstable, or possibly associated with domestic or foreign terrorism, should not own tactical rifles such as the Ruger AR-556. Semi-automatic weapons are not necessary for home defense, or hunting purposes. However, many people continue to own and purchase these rifles because of the ban on them being lifted in 2004. Those who own them safely and responsibly, should they be punished because of this man’s actions? Are Americans willing to give up their rights to carry assault weapons in favor of handguns to protect the public at large? How can we protect ourselves from another attack like this? Is there a way to stop gun violence in America? These are some of the questions we will continue to ask in the coming weeks. Remember to keep Sutherland in your minds and hearts throughout this tragic time.

Below are the President’s statements after the attack.


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