Gunman opens fire inside a rural Texas church

Several people are dead, possibly 25, including a gunman who opened fire at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Wilson County, Texas, a rural community about 30 miles east of San Antonio this morning, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told The Wilson County News that the shooter had been killed, according to the report on the Express-News. However, exact numbers of dead and wounded were not immediately available.

Politicians and local officials alike have said their thoughts are with the people of the First Baptist Church, which one user on Facebook described as “such a warm and welcoming church that is truly filled with the Holy Spirit and shows real Christian love and friendship.”

Effect on schools

Sutherland Springs itself has a very small population, a little under 300, and no schools. The La Vernia Independent School District is to the north of Sutherland Springs, anchored by La Vernia High School with about 1,000 students. The district posted a note to its website:

Dear La Vernia ISD parents, community, and staff,

There are no words to express the tremendous sorrow that we feel for the families impacted by this morning’s tragic incident that occurred at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church. As a community, we must focus our attention and prayers on those who lost their lives and are currently being treated in hospitals throughout the San Antonio Area.

In light of this tragedy, know that we are prepared to do everything possible to support our students, staff, and parents. Counselors are highly trained and will be readily available to meet one-on-one with those who seek help during this difficult time. Each campus will have a designated location for assistance. The sites are as follows:

  • High School 500 Community Room
  • Junior High Library
  • Intermediate Library
  • Primary Library

As an added measure of support, our local law enforcement has committed to providing additional police surveillance throughout the week on all four campuses. Their presence always seems to provide our staff with a sense of calm during times such as these.

Please take the time to discuss the day’s event with your child and emphasize that if they need to speak to someone at school, their teachers will arrange for them to speak to a counselor. All requests will be honored, and help will be available throughout the day.

La Vernia ISD is committed to the safety and emotional well-being of our students. If there is anything that you feel we can do to navigate through this trying time or information that we should be aware of, please contact your campus administrator or my office at 830-779-6600, so that we can provide the help and support to those in need. We are here to serve.

Sincerely,
José H. Moreno, Ed.D.

The Stockdale ISD serves students to the east of Sutherland Springs. The district posted a note on its website:

In this moment of tragedy our thoughts and prayers go out to all that have been impacted by this horrific event in Sutherland Springs. In an effort to support our students, their families, faculty and staff, and community members, there will be grievance counselors from Stockdale ISD along with collaborative efforts from the City of Stockdale, Education Service Center 20 out of San Antonio, and The Ecumenical Center for Education, Counseling, and Health available to meet needs that may arise. Campus administrators will be meeting with all faculty and staff prior to students’ arrival to ready our campuses to assist with any and all counseling needs. If you have specific questions regarding the district or specific campus resources, please contact the Superintendent of Schools, Daniel Fuller at (830) 996-3551 or via email daniel.fuller@stockdaleisd.org

Finally, to the south and west of Sutherland Springs is the Floresville Independent School District, anchored by the 1,200-student Floresville High School. Superintendent Sherri Bays sent the following note to families:

We are devastated by the tragedy in Sutherland Springs. Our hearts are breaking for the families of the deceased and injured. These are our community members, friends, students and their families. While we continue to learn about the specifics of this horrific event, we want our FISD family to know that we are prepared to provide grief counseling services to our students and staff affected by this senseless act of violence. FISD counselors and counselors from San Antonio and surrounding areas will be available first thing Monday morning to provide support to our students, families and staff.

Because of the location of the incident, several bus routes will need to be adjusted. We will be contacting the riders in the affected locations. We ask for your patience as we navigate the road closures that are occurring. We understand that this is a difficult and concerning time for our community and want you to be assured that we will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to monitor our campuses.

Please keep all those affected by this evil crime in your thoughts and prayers.

Sherri Bays
Superintedent of Schools

About the Author

Paul Katula

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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