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After Church Shooting San Antonio Journalist Talks To Members Of Tight-Knit Community


Now to the deadly shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 26 people were killed during a church service there today. Governor Greg Abbott says that makes it the most deadly mass shooting in the history of Texas. Caleb Downs is a reporter with The San Antonio Express-News. He's been reporting on the shooting. Caleb, thank you for joining us.

CALEB DOWNS: Thank you for having me.

KING: Caleb, I want to first take a listen to Freeman Martin. He's with the Texas Department of Public Safety.


FREEMAN MARTIN: The suspect has not been completely identified. We believe he's a young white male, maybe in his early 20s. He was dressed in all-black tactical-type gear and was wearing a ballistic vest. The delay in getting him is there were multiple weapons in the vehicle. And the vehicle has been processed by our Texas Rangers Special Operations Group bomb techs. There's a lot of work to be done in this investigation. We know that there are 23 found deceased inside the church, two deceased outside of the church. And now, one of them that was transported that was injured has deceased.

KING: Just devastating news there. Caleb, what were the big things that we learned in this press conference?

DOWNS: The big things that we learned was that there was one sole gunman who executed the shooting. There had been some rumors floating around that he might have had an accomplice. And one of the other surprising facts was that he was actually engaged in gunfire with a neighbor who happened to hear the gunshots and intervened.

KING: Intervened and exchanged fire with the suspect, is that right?

DOWNS: Yes, ma'am. From what we were told, he had a firearm of some kind. And he heard the gunshots. He went to the church, engaged the shooter in gun fire and even chased him maybe about 10 miles away from the church, where the shooter crashed and was found dead. We don't know if he died from the crash or if he died from a gunshot wound sustained in the exchange.

KING: Just extraordinary details emerging. One detail or one fact that has not emerged yet, as I understand it, is the killer's motive. Do I have that right?

DOWNS: Yes, ma'am. The motive is still unclear at this point. We don't know why he targeted this church or if had any connections to the church at all.

KING: And, Caleb, you report locally. You are in San Antonio, which is just a ways away from Sutherland Springs. Do I have that right?

DOWNS: Yes, ma'am. And I'm actually from the area. My hometown is LaVernia, Texas, which is, you know, maybe 15 minutes away from here.

KING: Oh, wow. I understand that today You've been speaking with family members of the victims. Can you tell us what they've been telling you?

DOWNS: Yes, ma'am. So I spoke with a couple folks from the area at a community building, which is about a block away from the church where the shooting happened. One of the women was telling me her 13-year-old goddaughter were shot and killed. I met a mother-daughter pair, Debby (ph) and Britton Collins (ph). Britton's 19 years old. Britton grew up with these people. They have been going to the church for years and years. And she told me she knew just about all of the victims that were killed.

KING: Caleb Downs is a reporter with The San Antonio Express-News. Caleb, our condolences to you and everyone in the area. And thank you so much for joining us.

DOWNS: All right. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.