Tex. Gunman Kills 26, Injures 20 Attending Church Service
Nov. 06—Sunday's tragedy at a Sutherland Springs church has surpassed the 1991 shooting at a Killeen Luby's as the deadliest in Texas history.
In 1991, George Hennard drove his pickup through a plate-glass window into the Luby's and started shooting. The attack ended with 23 dead and 27 wounded. Hennard shot himself at the end of his spree.
On Sunday, a man dressed in black tactical gear attacked worshippers at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, leaving at least 26 people dead and another 20 injured, some critically, as of Sunday evening, authorities said. The alleged shooter, identified by two law enforcement sources as Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, of New Braunfels, died after a brief pursuit on county roads.
The attack ranks among the top five deadliest shootings in the United States.
But focusing on death tolls may actually lead to more shooters, warned criminology professor James Alan Fox at Northeastern University.
Nick Uhlid, a resident of Sutherland Springs, Texas, and member of First Baptist Church, talks to reporters about the mass shooting at the church on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017.
"It wouldn't be any less serious and tragic if it weren't the largest or the second-largest or the third-largest," Fox said. "That doesn't matter as far as the nature of the crime or how it affects the victims."
Aspiring mass shooters may be inspired by the notoriety that comes with being a famous murderer.
Fox said Adam Lanza, the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was seeking to surpass the death toll of his hero, Norwegian mass shooter Anders Behring Breivik. Lanza killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders and six adult school staff members in the 2012 attack. He then killed himself.
Texas has a history of mass shootings. The modern history of mass shootings begins in 1966 with University of Texas tower sniper Charles Whitman, who killed 17 people in 1966.
In San Antonio, two people were killed and 51 injured on April 27, 1979, when Ira Attebury opened fire from inside his mobile home on the festive crowd who had turned out for the annual the Battle of Flowers Parade.
Eight years ago Sunday, U.S. army psychologist Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded 42 at Fort Hood. Hasan, armed with two pistols, shot soldiers readying paperwork before heading to Iraq.
In 2015, nine died and 18 were wounded after a shootout between biker gangs in Waco. In 2016, a sniper killed five police officers and injured 11.
In 1999, a man named Larry Gene Ashbrook killed eight and injured seven at a prayer rally at the Wedgewood Baptist Church in Fort Worth. Police found no solid motive for the attack, but Ashbrook was known to have struggled with mental health issues.
In 1995, James Simpson shot and killed five people, including the business owner and the owner's wife, at his former workplace in Corpus Christi. Simpson then left the business and fatally shot himself.
The deadliest shooting in the world is the Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1 when Stephen Paddock opened fire on an outdoor music festival, killing 58 people and wounding more than 500. He killed himself before police entered the hotel room he turned into a sniper's nest.