At least 26 people are dead after a gunman walked into the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas Sunday morning and opened fire on the crowd.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made the announcement about the latest death toll at a press conference Sunday night calling it “the largest mass shooting in the state’s history.”
“There are no words to describe the pure evil that we witnessed in Sutherland Springs today,” Abbott said. “Our hearts are heavy at the anguish in this small town, but in time of tragedy, we see the very best of Texas. May God comfort those who’ve lost a loved one, and may God heal the hurt in our communities.”
There was a prayer vigil held within sight of the church building Sunday night. More than 100 people, including residents of the small town and others from the surrounding area, participated. The governor also attended the candlelight service.
Sutherland Springs is a small community of 400 people located about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio. According to a 2015 listing in the national directory of the Southern Baptist Convention, the First Baptist Church was established in 1926. It has almost 270 members and draws about 180 people for services on Sundays.
The victims ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old. Their identities have not been released.
The church’s pastor Frank Pomeroy told ABC News that his 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle, is among the dead. He said she “was one very beautiful, special child.”
Pomeroy’s wife, Sherri, said in a text message to the Associated Pressthat she and her husband were out of town when the attack occurred, but they lost their daughter “and many friends.” She said she and her husband were trying to get home.