By Caitlin Aquino
On Sunday, November 5, a group of people from Sutherland Springs, Texas were singing and praying at their First Baptist Church when gunman Devin P. Kelley opened fire. Before official authorities were able to arrive at the scene, a neighbor fired at Kelley, forcing him to drop his weapon and flee. This escalated into a chase, where a neighbor and another bystander followed Kelley in a white SUV before mortally injuring him. Unfortunately, the damage was already done. Twenty-six churchgoers died and twenty more were injured in the deadliest mass shooting of Texan history.
Kelley was a resident of Comal County, Texas with a previous history of domestic violence. He was also a member of the U.S. Air Force for a few years before being charged with domestic violence and sent to confinement as well as to a mental health clinic. At the clinic, he attempted to escape but was caught when trying to sneak weapons into an airbase and “carry out death threats.” A year later, he was finally released and left the military with a bad conduct discharge. Somehow, Kelley was able to get married again to Danielle Shields in 2014. The “estranged” couple, said by law enforcement officials, were believed to have been between Kelley and Michelle Shields, Danielle’s mother. In a fury, Kelley decided to produce a mass shooting at the same church Michelle worshipped at. She was not present at the time but Danielle’s grandmother, Lula White, was killed at the time. When Kelley attempted to get a gun permit, he was denied but still was LEGALLY allowed to purchase a gun.
The victims ranged from young five-year-olds to seventy-two-year-olds. Five-year old Rylan Ward, unfortunately, was shot four times—twice in the stomach, once in the scrotum, and once in his arm. Although his family was optimistic about his condition, Ward was thought to be bedridden in the hospital for months as well as having had to learn the ability to walk again. On the same day, Ward lost his step-mother, step-sister, and half-sister. When his father Chris Ward was questioned about the situation, he only said, “Stuff like that doesn’t happen in Sutherland Springs.”
What happened in Texas sadly is not as shocking anymore. Mass shootings are common among the media and many people have learned to desensitize themselves from the tragedies. Only a few weeks before Texas, Las Vegas faced a similar horrific tragedy at a concert. A week after Texas, the same problems continued with a shooting near an elementary school., President Trump denounced Kelley’s doing as a, “horrible act of evil” but history will keep repeating itself until strict prevention is done by the government.