Israeli leaders send messages of support in wake of Texas church shooting that killed at least 26


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli leaders sent messages of support to the United States in the wake of a Texas church shooting that left at least 26 people dead.

“Horrified by the savagery in Texas,” Israeli Prime Minister said in a statement that his office also tweeted. “Our hearts are with the victims, their families and the American people.”

President Reuven Rivlin, on an official visit to Spain, also tweeted his concern. “Terrible news coming out of #Texas. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the victims and their families,” he wrote.

A gunman opened fire Sunday morning at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a small town east of San Antonio. The congregation had just begun its service at 11 a.m. when the gunfire began.

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The gunman has been identified to several media outlets by unnamed sources as Devin Kelley, 26, from near San Antonio, according to reports. Kelley reportedly served in the Air Force, but was court martialed in 2012 for assaulting his wife and child, and received a dishonorable discharge in 2014 for “bad conduct.”

Kelley carried out the shooting with a military-style rifle and was wearing black tactical gear and a ballistic vest. He first shot at the church from outside, and then entered the small, white building and continued to shoot.

He was later found dead in his car some miles from the church. It is not clear if he killed himself or died of a gunshot wound from a pursuer. No motive has been established for the attack, carried out about 30 miles from Kelley’s home.

The victims ranged in age from 5 years old to 72 years old. At least 20 others were wounded. The service was being broadcast on YouTube.

President Donald Trump, on an official visit to Japan, 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.”

He later made a statement in which he addressed what he called “an act of evil.”

“Americans do what we do best: we pull together. We join hands. We lock arms and through the tears and the sadness, we stand strong,” he said.

Ivanka Trump also addressed the attack in a tweet: “God bless the people of Sutherland Springs, TX. Our country’s hearts are breaking for the victims & their families. We love & are with you!”

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