At least 27 people have been killed inside a Texas church - including a two-year-old child - after a gunman dressed in full combat gear opened fire during the morning service before cops shot him dead. The shooting happened at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, where around 50 people usually attend service, according to local reports.
Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr told CNN that at least 27 people have been killed in the shooting, but the death toll is expected to climb.
'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.'
At least 24 others were injured in the horrific shooting. Witnesses said a man 'in full gear' walked inside the church and opened fire just before 11.30am. A woman wrote on Facebook that she saw the man flee the scene in his vehicle before crashing it not far from her daughter's house. She said he then ran on foot and was pursued by police.
The shooter was killed after the brief foot chase into Guadalupe County, according Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office spokesman Robert Murphy. But it's still unclear if the gunman shot himself or was taken down by authorities. The suspect, who has not been identified, is dead and there is no longer an active shooter threat, according to police. Police could not give an exact number of victims shot in the attack, but witnesses said they heard as many as 20 shots fired.
Dana Fletcher, who owns a store in Sutherland Springs, told CNN: 'It's just awful...there were emergency responders everywhere.' Neighbors in the area said they may have heard the shooter reload multiple times. Another witness at the scene said a two-year-old was also shot in the attack. Sutherland Springs is a rural community in Wilson County, Texas, that's made up of about 400 people. It's located about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio.
Some residents fear that the gunman is someone they know becuase their community is so small. First responders are still working to remove bodies from inside the church. President Donald Trump sent his condolences to the Sutherland Springs community. He also said he will continue to monitor the situation from Japan.
'God bless the people of Sutherland Springs, TX. Our country’s hearts are breaking for the victims & their families. We love & are with you!' Ivanka Trump tweeted after learning of the shooting.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a statement following the shooting. 'While the details of this horrific act are still under investigation, Cecilia and I want to send our sincerest thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected by this evil act. '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.'
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement: 'The thoughts and prayers of all Texans are with the people of Sutherland Springs as tragic reports come out of First Baptist Church.' Please join Angela and me as we pray for those impacted by this horrific shooting,' Paxton said. Photos show families tearfully praying outside their community building as they wait to see if their family and friends are safe.
There were at least six helicopters called in to transport victims to the hospital. Connally Memorial Center in Floresville, so far, have received six people from the shooting. Special agents from ATF's Houston Field Division, San Antonio Field Office are on the scene along with the FBI.