The Latest: Pence addresses prayer vigil




  • In World/Asia
  • 2017-11-09 05:30:34Z
  • By Associated Press
 

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (AP) - The Latest on the Texas church shooting (all times local):

8:20 p.m.

A hymn and an acoustic guitar opened a memorial service for victims of Sutherland Springs' massacre.

Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott were among those attending and speaking at the packed Floresville High School football stadium, where many in the crowd stood, swayed and sang along with the guitarist.

Pence told the crowd that the shooting at the First Baptist Church - which left 26 dead, including the unborn baby of one of those slain - was the worst mass shooting at a church in American history and called the gunman "deranged." He added that "whatever animated the evil that descended on that small church, of the attacker's desire was to silence their testimony of faith, they failed."

Abbott began the service by praying "for healing and for help" and proclaiming Tuesday a statewide day of prayer.

Abbott said Texans come together at times of crisis and tragedy, as they did after Hurricane Harvey. He said, "It's what we do." People in the crowd answered "amen."

A small clutch of victims' family members sat off to the side on the running track. When Abbott recognized one of the men who shot at and pursued the attacker, the man stood, as did many in the crowd as they cheered.

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7:50 p.m.

Apple says it's offering the FBI technical advice after learning that agents were trying to access the cellphone of the man who massacred more than two dozen at a South Texas church.

In a statement Wednesday, Apple also assured the FBI that it would expedite responses to any legal process the bureau sends the company.

Apple says the FBI had not requested its assistance.

Depending on the model of iPhone and what security features it has, FBI agents might have a short window to use alternative methods to access its data.

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7:30 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in meeting with the families of victims killed in Sunday's mass shooting at a South Texas church.

The wives of Pence and Abbott joined the officials in going from table to table at the Floresville High School library to meet with the families of those killed at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. Floresville is the Wilson County seat and the closest town of significant size to Sutherland Springs.

Pence spoke to John Holcombe, whose parents, wife, three of her children, a brother and a niece died Sunday. Holcombe and his wife's 7-year-old daughter, Evelyn, managed to run out of the church. Holcombe was treated for shrapnel injuries and released from the hospital Monday.

Phillip Holcombe, the eldest of Crystal's children, was also at the library. His aunt, Torie McCollum, told AP earlier that she worries most about Phillip, known as PJ, because he had already experienced the death of their father, Peter Hill, from congenital heart failure in 2011.

Sessions told members of the Johnson family "the country's grieving." The Johnsons are relatives of Lula White, the shooter's wife's grandmother who was among the more than two dozen killed in Sunday's shooting. He told the Johnsons that he had just come from their First Baptist and that he "grew up in a church smaller than that one. Church is family."

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6:30 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is blaming the Air Force bureaucracy in addition to the gunman for a massacre at a South Texas church that left more than two dozen dead.

Pence spoke at a news conference Wednesday afternoon outside the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, where the shootings happened.

He said the gunman lied on his background check application when buying the weapons. He also cited the man's history of mental illness and bureaucratic failings within the Air Force for the tragedy.

Pence began his trip to Texas Wednesday by visiting Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio to meet with victims wounded in the shooting. Then he, his wife and Texas officials met with victims' families, first-responders and two men who pursued the gunman.

Pence said President Donald Trump had authorized a full complement of federal resources to the investigation, including 100 on-site FBI agents.

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5:45 p.m.

The owner of a Colorado gun shop says the gunman who killed more than two dozen people at a South Texas church bought two guns in his shop.

Jeff Lepp owns Specialty Sports and Supply in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He said Wednesday that Devin Patrick Kelley bought a pistol from his shop in 2014 and a revolver in 2015 after passing background checks. He said he couldn't identify the specific guns for privacy reasons.

Lepp said the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives contacted him about the pistol Sunday night and he also told them about the revolver. He believes Kelley likely didn't own the revolver anymore because investigators didn't ask about it.

Authorities have previously said that Kelley purchased four guns from federally licensed dealers in Texas and Colorado over the last four years. Among them were the AR-15-style rifle used in the church shooting and handguns found in and near the shooting site.

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5:30 p.m.

A town justice in upstate New York says a cousin is among the more than two dozen people killed in the shooting rampage at a Texas church, and another cousin who was visiting at the time was wounded.

Timothy Cox is a justice in the town of Olive in the Catskill Mountains. He told WNYT-TV in Albany that Margaret McKenzie, of Saratoga Springs, New York, was visiting their mutual cousin, Tara McNulty, in Sutherland Springs, Texas last weekend. That's when a man opened fire on worshippers inside the First Baptist Church.

The 33-year-old McNulty, a bartender at the Aumont Saloon in nearby Seguin, was killed in the attack. Cox and her former employer says her two children were wounded, and Cox says McKenzie was also wounded.

The bar is hosting a benefit for McNulty's family on Sunday.

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5:25 p.m.

Eleven people remain hospitalized following the shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs that left more than two dozen worshippers dead.

A spokeswoman at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio said seven shooting victims remained at the hospital Wednesday, ranging from fair to critical condition.

Officials with University Health System in San Antonio still had four patients Wednesday, listed with conditions ranging from good to critical.

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5:20 p.m.

A former friend of the Texas church shooter says he had asked her for sexual favors and prevented his first wife from communicating with her friends.

The friend, Kelsey Huckaby, tells KTBC-TV in Austin, Texas, that during high school Devin Patrick Kelley was "kind of controlling of his girlfriends."

Huckaby says, Tessa, whom she had also been friends with, stopped talking to her. She says that after Tessa divorced Kelley that she said he had been abusing her and her baby and controlling with whom she communicated.

Huckaby says she lost contact with Kelley until he responded to a Facebook post she made in April asking for a place to stay for her and her boyfriend. She says Kelley offered to let them stay in a trailer on his property if she performed weekly "sexual favors" for him.

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5 p.m.

A person familiar with the discussions says Apple contacted the FBI to offer technical advice after learning from a Texas news conference that the bureau was trying to access the church gunman's cellphone.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the discussions.

Depending on the model of iPhone and what security features it had, FBI agents might have had a short window to use alternative methods to access its data.

For instance, if the iPhone used Apple's Touch ID fingerprint sensing system, which is available in newer phone models, agents could have tried placing the dead gunman's finger on the phone to unlock it. But that could only have worked in the 48 hours since the last time the phone was locked.

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Matt O'Brien in Providence, R.I., contributed to this report.

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4:45 p.m.

A law enforcement official who has seen video from inside the Texas church says bullets splintered the walls and pews, several of which were overturned.

The church regularly video-recorded its services, and the official says the footage investigators have seen shows several minutes of the attack as there was "no one to turn it off." The official says it shows the gunman shooting some victims in the head.

The law enforcement official spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly on an ongoing investigation.

The official was also among those who went in the church after the shooting and said several of the pews were overturned, although it was unclear if that was from the attack or rescue efforts once paramedics arrived. Some of the holes in the wall were large enough to see sunlight from the inside.

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Associated Press writer Jim Vertuno contributed to this report.

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4:30 p.m.

Four women tell the San Antonio Express-News that the suspect in the Texas church shooting either sexually assaulted or harassed them.

The newspaper identified the women only by their middle names at their request to remain anonymous and contacted family or friends to corroborate their stories, it reported (http://bit.ly/2hdUeK6 ) Tuesday.

One woman told the newspaper that Devin Patrick Kelley had forced her into performing sexual acts in 2011, but she never filed a police report. She says Kelley became obsessive and she changed her phone number to get away from him.

A second woman told the newspaper that Kelley made lewd comments at her during her freshman year of high school at New Braunfels High School in 2008-09 and slapped her buttocks. A school district official says she has no way of confirming the claim or whether it was reported.

Two other women told the newspaper that they were harassed and threatened by Kelley on Facebook after one had posted about being unhappy that Donald Trump was elected president.

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4:20 p.m.

District records show the Texas church gunman was increasingly a disciplinary problem during high school.

In fall 2006, Devin Patrick Kelley's sophomore year, he was suspended then sent to an alternative school for two months after a drug-related incident. New Braunfels school district records didn't go into any detail about that or other run-ins he had.

He was suspended twice as a junior and three times as a senior for reasons including "insubordination," ''profane language/gestures" and "dishonest/false records."

With each passing year at New Braunfels High School, his grades slipped as well, according to the records. A B-student overall as a freshman, he failed several classes by his senior year and ended up ranked 260 out of 393 students in his graduating class in 2009. He finished with a 2.3 grade-point average.

The records also listed ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as one of his medical conditions.

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1:30 p.m.

The owner of a small Texas company that designs caskets is offering to provide a coffin to each of the families of the more than two-dozen people killed in last weekend's church shooting.

Trey Ganem, owner of Trey Ganem Designs in Edna, personalizes caskets at a cost of about $3,500. He wants to provide a custom-made one to each family free of charge.

He says Sunday's shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs was unfathomable because of the carnage brought to people who were worshipping.

Ganem's offer comes as officials say they intend to provide about $6,500 to each family to help cover funeral expenses.

Wilson County District Attorney Audrey Louis said at a news conference Tuesday that the money will come from a state fund set aside for crime victims.

Authorities put the death count in Sunday's shooting at 26, including the unborn baby of one of the slain women.

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12:50 p.m.

A U.S. official says authorities have reviewed a Texas congregation's video from inside the church showing a man shooting some victims - including children - in the head during morning worship.

The official's account of the video Wednesday is consistent with what witnesses attending the service said about the shooter's actions during the attack, which left at least two dozen people dead. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The same official confirmed the cellphone that belonged to the attacker was an iPhone but that the FBI had not yet asked Apple for help obtaining data from the device.

On Tuesday, Christopher Combs, the special agent in charge of the FBI's San Antonio division, said agents haven't been able to access the data on Devin Patrick Kelley's cellphone.

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Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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11:40 a.m.

Authorities have released an official list of those killed in the shooting rampage at a Texas church.

Eight male victims and 17 female victims ranging in age from 1 to 77 are on the Texas Department of Public Safety list released Wednesday. The list also includes the unborn baby of Crystal Holcombe, identified on the list as Carlin Brite "Billy Bob" Holcombe, age 0 and gender unknown.

Eight of the victims slain Sunday at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs were children and teenagers ranging in age from 1 to 16 years old.

Authorities said one of the children died at a San Antonio-area hospital. The remaining victims all died at the scene.

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12:20 a.m.

Police reports indicate the gunman who killed more than two dozen at a small-town Texas church briefly escaped from a mental health center in New Mexico in 2012.

The Air Force confirmed Tuesday that Devin Patrick Kelley had been treated in a facility after he was placed under pretrial confinement stemming from a court-martial on charges that he assaulted his then-wife and hit her child. The service acknowledged Monday that it didn't enter Kelley's criminal history into the federal database as required by military rules.

Also, a police report from El Paso says Kelley was caught trying to bring guns onto Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico when he was stationed there.

Authorities say the death toll of 26 from Sunday's shooting includes the unborn baby of one of the women killed.

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