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Spotlight: US gunman identified as discharged airman, "evil" act stirs up condemnation
Last Updated: 2017-11-06 14:35 | Xinhua
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U.S.-SUTHERLAND SPRINGS-GUNMAN-ATTACK

A mother comforts her daughter near the church where 26 people were killed in Sutherland Springs in the U.S. state of Texas on Nov. 5, 2017. At least 26 people were killed after a gunman opened fire at a church during Sunday services in Sutherland Springs in the U.S. state of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott said on Sunday. (Xinhua/Yan Bo)

The Pentagon has confirmed that the suspect of a mass shooting at a Texas church previously served in the Air Force and had been discharged for allegedly assaulting his spouse and child.

In a brief statement, the Pentagon on Sunday said Devin Kelley was an airman "at one point," but gave no additional details about his time in the Air Force.

Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek said Sunday that Devin Kelley served 12 months' confinement after a 2012 court-martial. He ultimately received a bad conduct discharge and reduction in rank.

The suspect, wearing all black and a ballistic vest, shot dead 26 people inside and outside a church in Sutherland Springs, about 300 km west of Houston, Texas.

The white male, reportedly in his early 20s, on Sunday fired outside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, a rural community of about 400 people, 50 km southeast of San Antonio, and then entered the building and continued to spray bullets with a Ruger AR assault-type rifle.

He was seen at a nearby gas station at about 11:20 a.m. (1720 GMT) Sunday. A witness said the suspect crossed the street to the church, exited his vehicle and shot his rifle at the church. "The suspect entered the church and continued to fire," the witness said.

At Sunday's press conference, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott disclosed more details, saying that "as he left the church, a local resident grabbed his rifle and engaged with the suspect," adding the suspect dropped his rifle and left the church.

He added that investigation has been going on with the help of local police, the FBI and other departments.

For now, at least eight injured are being treated at University Hospital in San Antonio, spokeswoman Leni Kirkman said, adding the hospital may receive more patients.

The people injured in the shooting are aged between five and 72, Regional Director at Texas Department of Public Safety Freeman Martin said on Monday.

STRONG CONDEMNATION

U.S. President Donald Trump, who is on a visit toJapan, tweeted "May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan."

Speaking to U.S. and Japanese business leaders in Tokyo Monday morning during his Asian trip, Trump highlighted that this "act of evil" took place at a place of sacred worship.

Trump said "our hearts are broken but in dark times - and these are dark times - such as these, Americans do what they do best."

He promised his administration's full support for investigation into the shooting.

Japanese Prime MinisterShinzo Abetweeted his "deepest condolences," saying: "I wish to express heartfelt solidarity with the people of theUnited Statesduring this difficult time."

"My thoughts are with those who suffered injuries in the incident," he said.

In the United States, more than 100 people gathered after dark on a grassy street corner near the church for a prayer vigil Sunday night.

Attendees, including Texas governor, lit candles while some wept and others hugged. They could see the church sign lit up and emergency lights flashing.

Sunday's attack is one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history. It came just five weeks after the worst shooting in which a gunman in Las Vegas fired down from a hotel room onto a crowd attending an outdoor concert, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds. After the tragedy,gun controlhas been heatedly debated in the U.S. society.

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