Texas Church Attack Victim Survived by Playing Dead as Gunman Looked for 'More People to Shoot'
Solis told ABC News that the churchgoers began screaming when Kelley began unloading a hail of gunfire, but fell silent as the gunman made his way through the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs while reloading his gun.
“I played dead and I made sure that I hid myself good under [a] bench,” she told the site. “You could hear a pin drop in there, silence. Real quiet … I knew if I said something he was gonna kill me. He was looking for people to shoot. More people to shoot.”
Kelley killed 26 people and injured at least 20 more in the attack before exchanging gunfire with a local resident. Kelley, a former Air Force member, was dressed in all-black tactical gear with a ballistics vest when he began firing from outside the church at around 11:30 a.m. local time, during a service.
“I’m gonna die, I knew I was gonna die. I knew ’cause the shots were going close to my head,” Solis told ABC News about what was going through her head during the incident. “I didn’t want to die.”
“He was shooting the people on the floor, they were on the ground already bleeding,” she added. “They were scared. Nobody was about to say a word … I would not even move, I would not even make a sound.”
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Solis recalled hearing children cry out for the mothers, and she said Kelley taunted the terrified churchgoers, saying, “Is everybody done?”
“There was no where to go,” Solis said. “We were trapped inside.”
After exchanging gunfire with the local resident, Stephen Willeford, Kelley made off in a vehicle while Willeford and Johnnie Langendorff pursued the killer.
The shooter was found dead in his vehicle in Guadalupe County, Texas, not far from the site of his attack, Freeman Martin, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said at a Sunday news conference. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, CNN reports.
Among the dead are eight members of the Holcombe family: Bryan, Crystal, Karla, Marc, Noah and three of Crystal’s kids, Greg, Emily and Megan. The victims range in age from 18 months to 77 years old, Wilson County sheriff Joe Tackitt said during a news conference.
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In the wake of the attack, authorities have been working to determine how Kelley was able to obtain multiple guns despite being convicted while in the Air Force of assaulting his wife and child.
The New York Times reports that the Air Forcedid not enter Kelley’s court martial into a federal database used for background checks that could have precluded him from getting weapons.