Law enforcement officers stand near the scene of a mass shooting Nov. 5 at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A lone gunman entered the church during Sunday services taking the lives of at least 26 people and injuring several more. CNS photo/Mohammad Khursheed, Reuters

Deadliest shooting in place of worship in U.S. history leaves 26 murdered

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  • November 6, 2017
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Catholic Church stands "in unity" with the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and the larger community after a shooting during Sunday services took the lives of 26 people and injured several more.

A 14-year-old girl, Annabelle Pomeroy, was among the dead. Her father, Frank Pomeroy, is pastor of the church but he was not at the service.

A man dressed in black tactical-style gear and armed with an assault rifle opened fire inside the church of a small South Texas community, in what the Texas governor called the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history. The dead ranged in age from 5 to 72 years old.

"We stand in unity with you in this time of terrible tragedy -- as you stand on holy ground, ground marred today by horrific violence," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

With San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, "I extend my prayers and the prayers of my brother bishops for the victims, the families, the first responders, our Baptist brothers and sisters, indeed the whole community of Sutherland Springs."

Law enforcement officials told CNN that a lone gunman entered the church at about 11:30 a.m. Central time while 50 people were attending Sunday services. Almost everyone in the congregation was shot. Sutherland Springs is 30 to 40 miles southeast of San Antonio.

Police pursued the suspect as he fled the church and he was reported dead, but it was not clear if police killed him or he took his own life. The shooter was described as a white male in his 20s. His motive was not immediately known.

"We ask the Lord for healing of those injured, his loving care of those who have died and the consolation of their families," Cardinal DiNardo said. "This incomprehensibly tragic event joins an ever-growing list of mass shootings, some of which were also at churches while people were worshipping and at prayer, he continued.

"We must come to the firm determination that there is a fundamental problem in our society. "A culture of life cannot tolerate, and must prevent, senseless gun violence in all its forms. May the Lord, who himself is peace, send us his spirit of charity and nonviolence to nurture his peace among us all," the cardinal said.

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