Pence, Abbott attend vigil for victims of church shooting
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (AP) Vice President Mike Pence joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at a memorial service for the victims of Sunday’s massacre at a small-town Texas church.
Pence told the crowd Wednesday evening that the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs was the worst mass shooting at a church in American history and called the gunman “deranged.”
“Whatever animated the evil that descended on that small church, if the attacker’s desire was to silence their testimony of faith, they failed,” the vice president added.
Abbott began the service by praying “for healing and for help.”
The governor said Texans come together at times of crisis and tragedy. “It’s what we do,” Abbott said. People in the crowd responded “amen.”
He also proclaimed Tuesday a statewide day of prayer.
Authorities have reviewed video from inside the church where a gunman killed more than two dozen, including footage that shows the assailant shooting victims in the head during Sunday services, a U.S. official said Wednesday.
The official’s account of the video is consistent with statements made by survivors of the attack. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
The same U.S. official confirmed that the attacker’s cellphone was an iPhone and that the FBI had not yet asked Apple for help obtaining data from the device.
The church regularly recorded its services, and the footage investigators have seen shows several minutes of the attack because there was “no one to turn it off,” according to a law enforcement official who has seen the video. The official also spoke on condition of anonymity because that person was not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation.
The law enforcement official was among those who went inside the First Baptist Church after the attack and said several of the pews were overturned, although it was unclear if that was from the attack or from rescue efforts. Bullets had splintered the walls and pews, leaving shards of wood all over the floors.
Pence arrived in Texas on Wednesday, visiting wounded victims at a San Antonio hospital and later meeting families of the dead in Floresville, not far from Sutherland Springs.
Pence went from table to table at a high school library attempting to console devastated family members.