Devin Kelley, the gunman who killed 26 persons inside a US church in Texas, went through the pews (church benches) looking for survivors to execute, a media report said. A Spanish couple, who survived the rampage on Sunday, told Efe news on Tuesday. Roxana Solis and Joaquin Ramirez were two of the approximately 20 survivors – most of them gravely wounded – in the shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. The couple were in one of the first aisles of the church when the 26-year-old gunman entered and opened fire on the panic-stricken congregation, many of who sought shelter under the pews.
Kelley’s first targets were the teenagers who were recording the church service, as is done each Sunday, and then he turned his semi-automatic rifle on the musicians, according to Solis, who was shot in the shoulder during the 16-minute carnage. “After feeling the shot, I played dead. I tried to be as quiet as possible so that the shooter thought that I, too, had died,” the woman said. “It seemed like a rain of bullets,” she added. Texas Department of Public Safety official Freeman Martin said on Monday that investigators recovered hundreds of shell casings from the scene along with 15 empty 30-round ammunition clips. The surviving couple, who live less than three minutes by car from the church, both said that the killer was especially “savage” with the children in the congregation, whom he fired upon at point-blank range.
In some cases, the children’s mothers “tried to defend their kids by putting themselves in front” and begging for mercy, but Kelley did not waver and gunned down the mothers as well. Ramirez was able to get out of the church after crawling to the door and exiting when the attacker had his back turned. After running a few yards, he immediately called 911 and reported the attack. He said that since the attack on Sunday he has not been able to sleep because the screams of the children before they died kept running through his head all night long.
“The daughter of the pastor asked me for help and I told her to keep silent, but the murderer discovered that she was alive and killed her,” he said. The dead ranged from under two-years-old to 77, with the local Holcombe family being especially hard-hit and losing eight members in the massacre. Kelley – who had a history of mental disorders and domestic abuse – was dressed in black and wearing a bullet-proof vest when he attacked the church in the heretofore quiet town some 45 km southeast of San Antonio.