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Largest Mass Shooting in Texas History as Gunman Opened Fire at a Texas Church Killing 26; Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 5, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:21] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour, you're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being here.
Our breaking news this hour, an unspeakable act of violence at a church in Texas. Twenty-six people are dead, 20 injured after a gunman's rampage. It happened at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, about 30 miles east of San Antonio. Two law enforcement sources have now identified the shooter as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley.
Officials say the gunman dressed all in black was wearing a ballistic vest, was armed with an assault-type rifle when he opened fire on the First Church of -- First Baptist Church. Victims range in age from 5 to 72 years old. Texas Governor Greg Abbott became emotional as he described the magnitude of this tragedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: As a state, we're dealing with the largest mass shooting in our state's history. There are so many families who've lost family members. Fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. The tragedy, of course, is worsened by the fact that it occurred in a church, a place of worship, where these people were innocently gunned down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: We're told the shooter died after a brief chase into a neighboring county. There's still no word on a motive. But we are getting more information about how the attack unfolded. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FREEMAN MARTIN, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: At approximately 11:20 this morning, a suspect was seen at a Valero gas station in Sutherland Springs, Texas. He was dressed in all black. The suspect crossed the street to the church, exited his vehicle and began firing at the church.
The suspect then moved to the right side of the church and continued to fire. That suspect entered the church and continued to fire. As he exited the church, a local resident grabbed his rifle and engaged that suspect. The suspect dropped his rifle, which was a Ruger AR assault-type rifle, and fled from the church. Our local citizen pursued the suspect at that time.
A short time later, as law enforcement responded, that suspect right at the Wilson-Guadeloupe County line, he ran off the roadway and crashed out and was found deceased in his vehicle. At that time we -- at this time we don't know if it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound or if he was shot by our local resident who engaged him in gunfire.
We know he's deceased in the vehicle. The suspect has not been completely identified. We believe he's a young white male. Maybe in his early 20s. He was dressed in all black tactical-type gear and was wearing a ballistic vest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: President Trump speaking abroad from Japan called the shooting an act of evil adding, quote, "We cannot put into words the pain and grief we all feel."
CNN's Kaylee Hartung has been following the story from the very beginning.
And Kaylee, what more can you tell us about the victims.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Twenty six dead, Ana, as a result of this morning's shooting ranging in age from just 5 years old to 72 years old. Authorities not ready to publicly share the names of those victims with us yet. As they say their first priority is to the victims' families. To ensuring that they are receiving the information they need and in its most accurate form.
Many people gathering for a vigil tonight at a community center just down the street from the church to get that information. To have access to local authorities and officials and to learn the fate of those who were attending the First Baptist 11:00 a.m. church service this morning.
Officials also say there are approximately 20 others being treated in area hospitals with conditions ranging from minor to critical. So you hope this number, 26 dead, doesn't grow. Already the largest mass shooting in the history of the state of Texas. But another 20 or so individuals fighting tonight.
CABRERA: Kaylee Hartung, thank you.
I want to bring in our panel of law enforcement experts to discuss the investigation moving forward. Cheryl Dorsey is a retired LAPD police sergeant, James Gagliano is a former FBI supervisory agent, and Art Roderick, a former assistant director for the U.S. Marshals Office.
Art, you and I haven't had a chance to talk so I'll start you. Police say this suspected gunman was dressed in all black tactical gear. He was wearing a bulletproof vest, he was armed with an assault-type rifle. [20:05:03] It gives the impression that this was carefully planned but
the sheriff just moments ago told me that this gunman had no connection to this church, was not from that community.
What do you make of that?
ART RODERICK, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, U.S. MARSHALS OFFICE: Well, I've checked with some law enforcement sources, too, and I -- he might not be from that particular county, but I think he is from the surrounding area. The interesting thing, there's a couple things that came out of that presser that -- or the bit that just played a little while ago that it's a Ruger AR-15, which to me is the nomenclature for semiautomatic 223 caliber assault rifle.
And if he's firing through the walls of that church, that very small building, those bullets are going to go right through there and just hit people inside the church very easily. Usually the bullets coming out of an AR-15 travel at about 3300 feet per second and are made to hit bone and create as much tissue damage as it can in the body.
So that is a horrible weapon to be shot with and I have to tell you that I hope -- I hope the casualty count doesn't go up, but it very well could.
CABRERA: Right now 26 dead, about 20 others who are injured. Witnesses say they know people personally who are among those injured, in critical condition.
James Gagliano, does it surprise you that this gunman apparently was not from that community, specifically?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Again, you and I've spoken about this earlier this evening, trying to determine motive, and motive tells us a lot of things. And one of the things is, was this a target of opportunity, was this somebody that just became unraveled that morning for something as innocuous as his coffee wasn't hot enough? Was this something pre-meditated?
And then again, to Art's point, we want to build this out further to determine whether or not there were co-conspirators. The law enforcement at the press conference have indicated that there doesn't seem to be any more imminent threat. That doesn't necessarily mean that there weren't other folks that might have been participatory. Some of them doing it purposely, possible, or even unwitting.
So all of that has got to be built out. And the last thing I want to say about the weapons, again, they were very careful in describing this as a Ruger assault rifle. And assault rifles have different definitions by jurisdiction inside the country. But we know that it generally includes a semi-automatic weapon as Art pointed out.
CABRERA: A 223 is what we are told from officials who are familiar.
GAGLIANO: 223 which is also a 5.556 caliber NATO round. Those are interchangeable terms for the same type of --
CABRERA: Put that in layman's terms for us.
GAGLIANO: That's just the caliber. That's -- the NATO level, because you're using it in the military, it's the military round for the old style M-16 that's now become the M-4, but for someone that purchased a Ruger, and I'm going to speculate here and say that this might have been a Bush Master, the Ruger Mini 14, that type of weapon is -- could be considered an assault rifle. Because why? Can have a pistol grip to it. Can have a detachable magazine. A barrel shroud, flash suppressor.
And even if it's semiautomatic, as we discussed earlier, Ana, could have had a 20, 30 round magazine attached it and could have had a 20 or 30-round magazine attached to it, and might have had multiple. With that many people shot, as Art again said, you know, that round goes it so, you have 2800 feet per second, 3300 feet per second depending upon the exact gun, that goes through not just one person, but two or three other people, could have caused multiple casualties.
CABRERA: And when I asked the sheriff if it was -- if he knew if it was a semiautomatic or more, he couldn't answer that question. But based on the type of weapon that it is, would it automatically be at least a semiautomatic or not necessarily?
GAGLIANO: It would have to be. You could not have done this type of carnage in that amount of time as they described with a bolt action rifle. This was something that it had to be a semiautomatic weapon with a detachable magazine.
GAGLIANO: Again we don't know the size of the detachable magazine but you could not have done this type of damage in that short amount of time with a bolt action hunting rifle.
CABRERA: I want to get Cheryl Dorsey into the conversation as well. This church we know recorded its sermons and the sheriff tells us this attack was, in fact, recorded on videotape. In fact, the person making the recording he says is at the hospital, not necessarily because he was shot, but he is among those who were taken to the hospital.
What will investigators be looking for on this recording?
CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LAPD POLICE SERGEANT: Well, they're going to look for anything that will help them identify, obviously, how the shooter was able to gain access into the church sanctuary and what action was taken once he got in there. And so understand that most oftentimes cameras are positioned to the rear of the church and facing in toward the pulpit area. So you really don't see a whole lot of activity at the front door.
You see all the activity that's occurring down in the pulpit. And so I'm not sure that the kinds of things that we want to see other than people dying in real time is going to be really made available.
[20:10:03] CABRERA: Art, I was based in Colorado and covered the Aurora theater shooting when that happened. I can't help but think about the similarities. Both men dressed in tactical gear, both opening fire in this enclosed space on unsuspecting people sitting in rows or in this case, pews. What are your thoughts on that?
RODERICK: I mean, I think the key here, and I know we've talked about this all afternoon, but it's going to be the motive, what caused him to flip today and what caused him to go on to this rampage. But this was planned. I mean, you don't dress up in black tactical gear and wear a bulletproof vest and carry multiple firearms without having some plan, you know, predetermined.
So I just don't think he snapped like today. I think this has been something that he's been looking at doing for a while. And that he went ahead and possibly, very possibly staked this church out earlier and made the determination this would be the best soft target he could pick out. Fortunately, the neighbor was armed and actually very possibly could have stopped him from continuing to fire into the church, although apparently from the sheriff's discussion, it looks like he might have been leaving the interior of the church at that point in time.
But either way, it sounds like he stopped him from what he was doing. He dropped his weapon, got in the car and then that short chase ensued.
CABRERA: And we have learned that there were additional firearms inside that vehicle.
Everyone, thank you. Stand by.
I want to bring in CNN's Gustavo Valdes. He is live in Sutherland Springs, Texas, now where a vigil is under way. We know the governor is there also.
Gustavo, tell me what you're seeing.
GUSTAVO VALDES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, good evening. And as you can see, a small but growing number of residents not only from this small community, but the other ones around the area are gathering here in disbelief. They can't believe something like this happened in a city so small, in a city where they tell me everybody is Christian, everybody knows each other, everybody helps each other.
We understand the governor is also participating in this candlelight. One of the speakers a few moments ago asked for everybody to not let this be a moment of hate. Not to let this moment lead to an escalation of hate. He asked for everybody to pray for the victims that we know are still being treated at the local hospital. And this while the police are investigating the crime scene directly across from where the candlelight vigil is taking place.
A few minutes ago, I talked to a couple from Floresville which is about 14 miles away from this location. They told me even though they were not members of this church, they knew the pastor. He ran a pantry for the needed -- for the needy people. They said he was always there to assist people whenever they need it. They tell me the pastor wasn't at the church at the moment but knew the 14-year-old daughter who perished in this attack. They told me they knew her since she was a little baby and they can't believe that this is happening.
Also a couple of hours ago, I talked to another gentleman who told me that he comes to this church every Sunday. Today he overslept. However, his cousin and his family were there. His cousin is wounded, being treated at the hospital. His pregnant wife, she was carrying an 8-month-old baby, she's dead. Her parents are dead. And three of the five children they had are also dead. One of them is struggling to save her life in a local hospital.
This is something that has touched everybody. I started driving from Houston to get here and everywhere I stopped I heard people talking about it. They can't believe that this small community is going through this. And it's a community like many others in this part of Texas.
Yes, we are about 30 minutes away from San Antonio, population a million, over a million people live there, but if you drive through south Texas, you're going to find these little rural communities. I saw signs of the recently harvested corn in the area. The cattle grazing the fields. These are agricultural communities. They're very close. Everybody knows each other.
Everybody helps each other because they know that the big help, as we're noticing with the police, it's miles and miles away. They have to help each other and right now they're rallying together trying to pray for the survivors -- Ana.
CABRERA: It's heartwarming to see those people coming together behind you, Gustavo. Tell me a little bit more about what they're doing and I can only see just a small glimpse of the image there, but how many people are there?
VALDES: I can't give you an exact count.
[20:15:03] They've been going on for about, I don't know, 30 minutes by now. They're listening to Christian music, every once in a while somebody asks to say something. They say a few words. And everybody, you know, prays with them. say amen. They have their hands raised. They've been very, very respectful. Somebody else is talking in this moment. I can't see who it is. But something I can tell you, a lot of the participants are young people.
They're people who know this is something that's going to affect them for many more years. This is something that is going to mark their little town for many years and they want to be part of the healing process right now. We see a lot of children and also it is a very diverse community. Hispanics, whites, people of color, are gathering together in this candlelight vigil to pray for the victims.
CABRERA: Gustavo Valdes, thank you for that reporting.
Much more ahead here in the NEWSROOM. This is special CNN breaking news, live coverage of a mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, claiming 26 lives and wounding nearly two dozen more. Stay with us.
[20:20:22] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CABRERA: Breaking news as we continue to follow the Texas church shooting. A mass killing. Twenty-six people who lost their lives. And CNN Pentagon reporting Ryan Browne has just learned the gunman, Devin Kelley, was previously a member of the U.S. Air Force, who served in logistics readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge according to an Air Forces spokeswoman.
The Air Force did not provide a date or the condition of that discharge. But again new information on the suspect, the killer in this case, again identified as Devin Kelley, 26 years old.
I want to bring in CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem who's joining us now along with Art Roderick, the former assistant director for the U.S. Marshals Office.
Juliette, first your reaction to this news.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So it's not as surprising as we might think. We obviously know that some these cases of major crimes often or sometimes are former military. Tim McVeigh is the one that come to mind immediately. But it only tells us so much. I'm very curious about the discharge and what was going on, and then, of course, more importantly what's been happening in his life since.
What -- you know, what would explain behavior like this in a killing? I have to say, you know, as a terrorism and national security analyst, I've been with you too often, Ana, and Art as well, that we tend to sort of bifurcate these things, right? So this is now a crime, it's not terrorism, given his background.
But we have to begin to view these kinds of shootings and gun violence as Homeland Security issues if you just look at the numbers of mass shootings now. This is -- you know, these are -- this is the violence that's killing people. In great numbers now in the United States. And I think we need to start to think about this as a security issue for our homeland. Otherwise, too many people are going to die.
CABRERA: Art, what are your thoughts learning that this 26-year-old previously served in the Air Force as recent as 2010? We don't know the year that he was discharged, but he served in New Mexico, we're learning, and was discharged at some point. What are your takeaways from this new nugget of information?
RODERICK: Yes, I mean, it's a key part of information because, I mean, his familiarization with the 223 rifle. The fact that he's in tactical gear. That he had, you know, a bulletproof vest. This all sort of makes sense and fits into the piece of the puzzle and, you know, Juliette's right, I mean, when we look at these mass shootings here, you've got an individual that within a very short period of time, probably anywhere from five to 10 minutes, which is a long time when you're involved in a shooting, is able to kill 26 people and wound almost another 30.
So, you know, this is a mass casualty event that we've seen too many of recently, you know. Just a little while ago we had Las Vegas. We had the terror attack in New York just last week. And it seems to go on and on and on, but, you know, law enforcement will start piecing this together. I know one of the other questions that's going to come up is how do we prevent this? And, again, I hate to say it, but these are very hard incidences to prevent unless somebody comes forward that knows something prior.
CABRERA: We know there is a huge number of law enforcement officials there on the scene. FBI, ATF agents.
Juliette, when a tragic mass shooting like this, they are coming upon the scene, I imagine that responsibilities are sort of divvied out, so to speak. What was the federal investigators be taking on in this investigation specifically?
KAYYEM: Well, it was familiar having all these different entities come up so an incident command is formed. The lead is going to be local police department. The FBI is probably providing support. It's such a small town, that in terms of forensics, in terms of just, you know, sort of honorable body -- you know, the sort of corpses, you know, you need to do this in a way that's respectful of what happened. The FBI has resources for that.
Of course, it took place in a church so there's going to be a question about whether this satisfies requirements of a hate crimes, violation of federal law, does not appear to be terrorism in that sort of legal sense of the term in terms of, you know, was there an international foreign terrorist organization.
So the FBI would be in a support role at this stage unless there seems to be a pickup of evidence regarding some sort of motive that might be a federal motive. Now, he's dead, so unless there's sort of co- conspirators, there may not be a case, unfortunately.
[20:25:05] But, you know, one final thing when it sort of relates to this, we're hearing a lot about the videos being taken of the church that they were --
CABRERA: Right. There was a recording of the church service that was going on.
KAYYEM: Right. So unfortunately people will have to view that, but because that was public, I do wonder whether the assailant knew that as well. We've seen these cases that -- in Las Vegas as well, these defendants, these, you know, terrorists in some way, want to sort of memorialize what they were doing. So when I look at what you guys are reporting today, that's sort of one of my takeaways as well. Because we're trying to figure out why did he pick this church.
CABRERA: Right. And Art, we know the victims were ages 5 to 72.
CABRERA: What does that tell you about the psyche of this killer?
RODERICK: It's completely indiscriminate shooting. And when you're talking about a town with a population of, you know, 600 to 700 people, you've got 26 here, so far, that are casualties and you've got another, you know, 20, almost 30, that have been wounded. I mean, everybody knows everybody in this town. And I'm sure there's relationships, familial relationships that go throughout the town and I'm pretty sure everybody has been touched by this.
Not only in this county, but probably in the surrounding counties also. So it's a horrible crime. It's going to be very interesting, as Juliette had mentioned, to see why he picked this particular church, but it's going to be horrible for law enforcement and for Texas Department of Public Safety and all the other law enforcement agencies. They're going to have to sit there and review that video and see these individuals literally dying right in front of their eyes.
CABRERA: Juliette, Art Roderick, stand by.
I want to once again show you pictures from Sutherland Springs, Texas, where a vigil is happening right now. Much more ahead. Stay with us. You're watching special CNN live coverage of the Texas mass shooting.
[20:31:46] CABRERA: We are continuing to follow breaking news out of Texas. A mass shooting inside a church during Sunday worship and here's what we know at this hour.
The governor says at least 26 people have died at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. A small town east of San Antonio. And at least 20 more people have been injured. The gunman is identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley who once served in the U.S. Air Force. He was found dead in his car after a brief chase. Investigators are still trying to figure out if he took his own life or if a bullet fired by a neighbor of the church was the deadly shot. The gunman was wearing all black tactical gear when he entered the church. Opened fire.
The pastor's 14-year-old daughter is among those killed. Neither the pastor nor his wife were at the church during the rampage. We're also learning the victims range in age from 5 to 72. Texas Governor Greg Abbott choked back tears as he spoke about this tragedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABBOTT: As a state, we are dealing with the largest mass shooting in our state's history. There are so many families who've lost family members, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. The tragedy, of course, is worsened by the fact that it occurred in a church. A place of worship, where these people were innocently gunned down. We mourn their loss, but we support their family members.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: There is still no word yet on a possible motive. The sheriff also telling us that this shooter was not from that community.
Let me bring in CNN's Gustavo Valdes, he is live in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where a vigil is under way. The governor we know is there also.
Gustavo, I see you have somebody there with you. I know you've been talking with folks who know some of the victims.
VALDES: That's correct, Ana. The vigil is wrapping up, but we have two people who did not go to this church, but they knew the pastor.
Gloria, you live in a neighboring town. You were in church when this happened. What did you hear art bout it?
GLORIA RODRIGUEZ XIMENEZ, KNEW VICTIMS OF SHOOTING: I was at my church in Floresville. We were born and raised here in Sutherland Springs.
VALDES: And you knew the pastor.
XIMENEZ: Of course. And --
VALDES: What kind of person was he or is he -- he's still alive.
XIMENEZ: He's a loving pastor, man of God. We knew his girls. The one that didn't survive, I've known her since she was about 8 years old. And there's no words to describe how wonderful people they are. Christian. It's a small Christian town. A very small community. Everybody's united. Everybody's so close to everybody. Everybody knows everybody. And my uncle has lived here all his life.
VALDES: You said that he has helped you a lot in the past.
ANTONIO MORALES, KNEW VICTIMS OF SHOOTING: Yes, sir.
VALDES: How did he help you?
MORALES: Well, like I say, when I need some help, I ask him for prayers and he'd pray for me and help me all different ways. Lot of ways.
[20:35:02] VALDES: This is happening a month after Las Vegas, shortly after New York. Big cities. Did you ever think that a community like yours would go through something like this?
XIMENEZ: Never in a million years would I ever imagine this happening, never, never. I can feel the pain that everybody's going through. So much hurt. For a small town, for a small community. So united. Never in a million years would I expect anything like this. I could never imagine anything like this ever happening here. Maybe San Antonio, somewhere else, but never in a small town.
VALDES: How is this changing your mentality about small town USA?
XIMENEZ: I -- I don't think it will change. I think our love will just grow stronger. We have to stay stronger. We have to stay stronger. United. Love one another. Like I said, everybody knows everybody.
VALDES: This candlelight vigil was very emotional.
VALDES: People -- I heard somebody ask, let this not be a moment of hate. Do you agree?
XIMENEZ: Exactly. We need more love. There needs to be love. We need to have God in our lives. God is the only one that can direct us in the right direction. We need to turn our lives around and ask God for forgiveness. He's the only one that can help us. He's there. All we have to do is ask and he will help us.
VALDES: Do you know if you know anybody of the victims other than the pastor's daughter?
XIMENEZ: I don't know the victims that did not make it, but I've heard who they are and I do know them.
VALDES: Because you're so close, and even though they're neighboring towns everybody --
XIMENEZ: Right. Everybody knows everybody. And this is the only church in the community. And this is where everybody comes to worship. This is -- if you're a Baptist, this is where you come. And surrounding towns, you know, they all come to this church. It's a -- like I say, they're so united. There's so much love for one another. There's no room for hate. There shouldn't be room for hate.
VALDES: Thank you very much. And well, we feel the pain of the community. We felt it in the places we visited. We felt it in the people who participated in this candlelight vigil. Many of them are not from this particular area. They've come from many miles to participate. And even though it looks like a small gathering, we must remember, this was a small community. This is a very rural area. Getting from one town to another is not that easy. They have to drive many miles to get here.
XIMENEZ: Well, we're surrounding -- there's (INAUDIBLE), there's Stockdale, there's Floresville. Everybody knows everybody. Because like I say, we're small. Small community.
VALDES: And everybody help each other out.
XIMENEZ: Everybody helps one another.
VALDES: So this is -- this is the moments after the candlelight vigil. A few people stay behind trying to talk to their neighbors, trying to talk to the media. They want to talk because they want the victims to be remembered. They want them to be the persons that we think of tonight -- Ana.
CABRERA: Absolutely. We feel their pain. And we feel the love that they speak of.
Gustavo, thank you so much for that.
Much more ahead. This is special CNN breaking news. Live coverage. We'll leave you with some images as we head to break of this vigil tonight. Governor Greg Abbott among those attending.
[20:42:39] CABRERA: Continuing to follow breaking news. And I want to take you back to this vigil in Sutherland Springs, Texas. This is the community that has suffered such a tragedy today. Twenty-six people who were killed in a mass shooting inside a small Texas church. People here are gathered to support each other. Many of these people coming from surrounding communities as well.
We just heard from some people who knew one of the victims. The 14- year-old daughter of the pastor of the church where this all took place. And these people, she said, are here to lift up each other, to remember the victims of this horrible tragedy and to show that they are there to bring love, not hate.
Meantime, President Trump is also monitoring the investigation. He, too, extending best wishes. His prayers from afar. He says this mass shooting in Texas is, quote, "an act of evil." The president speaking out publicly for the first time since the gunman dressed in all black opened fire at today's small town Baptist church service in Texas. Twenty six people, again, are dead. The youngest victim just 5 years old.
Right now the president is in Tokyo on the first leg of a historic trip to Asia and here's what he said about this tragedy back in the state of Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me begin today by addressing the horrific shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of today's horrible and murderous attack. This act of evil occurred as the victims and their families were in their place of sacred worship.
We cannot put into words the pain and grief we all feel and we cannot begin to imagine the suffering of those who lost the ones they so dearly loved. Our hearts are broken, but in dark times, and these are dark times, such as these, Americans do what they do best. We pull together. We join hands. We lock arms. And through the tears and through the sadness, we stand strong. Oh, so strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:45:09] CABRERA: Again that's the president in Tokyo making those remarks about an hour and a half ago. Meanwhile, former president Barack Obama also weighed in on the church shooting. President Obama tweeting, "We grieve with all the families in Sutherland Springs harmed by this act of hatred and will stand with the survivors as they recover. May God also grant all of us the wisdom to ask what concrete steps we can take to reduce the violence and weaponry in our midst." We'll have much more ahead. Stay with CNN. We're back in a moment.
[20:45:07] CABRERA: The breaking news, a church shooting in Texas claiming the lives of 26 people, wounding many more.
CNN Pentagon reporter Ryan Browne has now learned the gunman Devin Kelley was previously a member of the U.S. Air Force. He served in logistics readiness at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge, according to an Air Force spokeswoman. The Air Force spokesperson did not provide a date or a condition of the discharge.
I want to bring back our law enforcement experts, James Gagliano, former FBI supervisory agent, and Art Roderick, the former assistant director for the U.S. Marshalls Office.
James, first your reaction to this new development as we learn that he was a veteran.
GAGLIANO: Sure. I mean, it's chilling. And as a veteran, it makes my skin crawl to think about it. I think the thing that's most important here now is to determine what were the terms of his separation from the service. Was it an honorable discharge or dishonorable discharge?
We know that if you do have a dishonorable discharge, you are precluded from owning firearms legally. Just like if you have an order of protection against you or if you have a felony or if you've been committed to, you know, a mental health facility. So that's going to be important again because it's going to determine whether or not he was able to purchase these weapons legally or illegally. If he was dishonorably discharged.
CABRERA: And that could obviously be a huge piece of the investigation as they trace where these weapons even came from.
GAGLIANO: His behavior in the military, because there are going to be efficiency reports. If he was an enlisted man, if he was an officer, there will be evaluations and efficiency reports and there will be a determination there as to what that reason was and whether or not there was any. Again, we want to find out if there were any signs or any things that we should have seen before or is this something that just happened because something triggered him after he left the service.
CABRERA: And we don't have a motive. Police obviously are working to figure that out.
Art, who would police be talking to right now? What are they looking at?
RODERICK: Well, I mean, the motive is key, as you just stated, Ana. And to get motive, they are going to be talking to family members, they'll be talking to -- you know, looking at his social media, talking to friends, at work, associates. They'll be putting this whole package together to figure out exactly what the motive is.
I would be -- you know, we were very surprised during the Las Vegas shooting that we couldn't come up with a motive. Probably still don't have one to this day. In this particular instance, we hopefully will find the motive fairly quickly. Seems like he had planned this for a period of time and, you know, Jim is right, we got to look at a military record to see what type of separation he had from the military.
I'm a veteran also. And I'm disgusted every time I hear things like this. And it just -- it just is a horrible situation that's going on in this particular part of the country. And hopefully within a very short period of time, we'll figure out exactly why he did this, why he picked that church, why he picked that particular community.
CABRERA: All right. Gentlemen, we've got to leave it there. Thank you both for being part of our special breaking news coverage, Art Roderick, James Gagliano. We do appreciate you both.
Our continued coverage will be right here with you on CNN throughout the night. Straight ahead, reaction from Texas. Stay with us.
[20:57:43] CABRERA: Texas Governor Greg Abbott has ordered his state's flags be lowered to half staff in honor of the lives lost in Sutherland Springs. In a statement the governor says, "There are no words to describe the pure evil that we witnessed in Sutherland Spring today. Our hearts are heavy as the anguish in this small town, but in time of tragedy, we see the very best of Texas. May God comfort those who lost a loved one and may God heal the hurt in our communities."
And we're hearing from more of the nation's leaders. Vice President Mike Pence tweeted, "Karen and I have sent prayers to victims and their families in Texas. We grieve with you and stand with resolve against evil. Thank you to the first responders."
Texas Senator Ted Cruz tweeted, "Keeping all harmed in Sutherland Springs in our prayers and grateful for our brave responders on the scene." Senator John Cornyn of Texas also tweeting, "Truly heartbreaking news in Sutherland Springs. Please say a prayer for First Baptist congregation, first responders and the community there."
Meantime, Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee issued this statement, saying, "Today we witnessed a horrific act of gun violence at a place of worship. Tragically, the mass shooting at Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church near San Antonio left more than 20 people dead and dozens more injured. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, the first responders and the people of this small community who are now reeling from this senseless attack. We as Texans, we must unite behind them to lift them up and to help them heal from the dreadful tragedy."
And House Speaker Paul Ryan weighed in with this tweet. "Reports out of Texas are devastating. The people of Sutherland Springs need our prayers right now."
And we are praying for those people, for the victims, for their family members and for that community.
I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for joining us. For our breaking news coverage of the church shooting in Texas. We'll be back with live coverage of the story at 11:00 p.m. Eastern following the premieres of "ANTHONY BOURDAIN, PARTS UNKNOWN" in Puerto Rico and Lisa Ling's "THIS IS LIFE."
And you of course can stay informed on the very latest at CNN.com all night long.