Texas Governor Greg Abbott Empathizes With Families Who Were Victimized by Mass Slaughter in Sutherland Springs Church
Governor Greg Abbott Attends Candlelight Vigil For Victims Of Mass Murder
Greg Abbott Can Draw On Personal Experiences To Comfort Others
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who overcame partial paralysis in 1984, was in a unique position to comfort the citizens of Sutherland Springs, Texas in the wake of the largest mass murder in Texas history. Abbott was only 26 years old when he suffered a horrific injury which would've killed a weaker person. The future governor of Texas was jogging through a neighborhood in Houston when a huge oak tree fell on him, inflicting injuries to his back which medical doctors couldn't repair in those days.
Doctors Found Fragments Of Bone In His Spine
Doctors found bone fragments in his broken spine, as well as fractured ribs and damaged kidneys, according to an article in the Dallas Morning News newspaper. There were even doubts that he would live following his accident.
At the time of the freak accident, Abbott was a recent graduate of Vanderbilt Law School. He was studying for the bar exam and saw a bright future ahead when the storm-weakened oak tree changed the course of his life dramatically.
Governor Greg Abbott Strong Supporter Of Religious Freedoms
Abbott Develops 'Spine Of Steel'
While many people may have given up on life after being told they'd never walk again by their doctors, Abbott's resolve to serve others was only strengthened by his random misfortune. He said later in his autobiography and on the campaign trail for governor, that the accident literally "gave him a spine of steel." The pain he endured while he lay in hospital beds and endured surgeries was almost unimaginable. His experience of suffering such incredible levels of pain probably uniquely qualified him to understand the pain of others.
Abbott Says 26 Killed In "Largest Mass Shooting In Texas History
When Abbott appeared to comfort the families who'd lost relatives in the mass murder inside the church, he said, "There are so many families that have lost family members. The tragedy is worsened that it happened in a church, a place of worship. We mourn their loss, but we support their family members," according to NBC News.
He further said at a press conference Sunday, "As a state, we are dealing with the largest mass shooting in our state's history."
Abbott, who served several extraordinary terms as Texas Attorney General before he moved into the Governor's Mansion, tweeted, "Our prayers are with all who were harmed by this evil act. Our thanks to law enforcement for their response. More details from DPS soon."
Greg Abbott Attends Prayer Vigil
Abbott joined more than 100 people fathered after dark for a prayer vigil on a grassy street corner within sight of the church where the deadliest mass shooting in Texas occurred, according to Fox News on November 5, 2017.
Governor Abbott, along with others, lit candles while many wept and other hugged Sunday night. According to law enforcement officials, the vigil was across the street from a convenience store where the shooter stopped prior to murdering the people as they worshipped inside the church.
Authorities now say 26 people were killed and about 20 were wounded in the attack on First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, a community southeast of San Antonio.
Greg Abbott Blames Mass Killing On Evil
When he spoke to reporters late Sunday, Abbott said, "There are no words to describe the pure evil that we witnessed in Sutherland Springs today." He further said victims ranged in ages from 5 to 72 years of age.
Abbott, who is a Christian, said, that the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs is a symptom of evil that "has permeated mankind since biblical times."
He further said on Fox News Outnumbered Overtime, "Go back in time before that to the earlier ages, the Middle Ages, when people committed horrific crimes, and when you go back through the history of the Bible, there was evil that took place from the earliest stages of the Bible to post-New Testament, so evil is something that has permeated this world."
Abbott further went on to say, "Remember, even though we're facing these severe tragedies--whether it be what happened in Sutherland Springs, or what happened in Las Vegas, or what happened in New York last week, or what happened in London earlier this year...we have acts of evil taking place, and because they are close in time to us right now, we think this is something heavy right now."
Abbott went on to say, "But put this in the context of history. Look at what happened with Hitler during the horrific events during that era and Mussolini."
Investigation Into Killer's Past
The shooter of innocent church worshippers in Texas has been identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, according to the New York Times newspaper in a recent article. Kelley, who lived in nearby New Braunfels, Texas, died shortly after the attack. He was court-martialed in 2012 on charges of assaulting his wife and child. His sentence was 12 months confinement. He received a "bad conduct" discharge in 2014, according to Ann Stefanek, the chief of Air Force media operations.
The Air Force has conceded the military conviction of Kelley was never reported to the national database as is required. That failure allowed him to purchase weapons at a sporting goods store. Investigators are checking into why the conviction was not reported.
Adam Kinzinger, Republican Congressman from Illinois, said today on Fox News he was concerned about the failure of the Air Force to report Kelley's criminal conviction to the federal database. He said sometimes "things fall through the cracks", and he was checking into the matter.
Kinzinger further mentioned a separate case where an Air Force pilot was hurt because information was incorrectly reported about him. He said he was working on the issue of accurate reporting.
The tragedy of this event is only increased by the fact First Baptist Church had an open pantry for all the citizens of the community who needed food. It was these kind-hearted souls Kelly selected as the targets of his wrath.
Stephen Willeford Claims He's "No Hero"
Good Guy Takes Down Mass Murderer In Texas
The civilian who used his rifle to stop Sunday's mass murder of 26 churchgoers in Texas has been hailed as a hero, according to a November 8, 2017 Fox News article. Stephen Willeford, a former National Rifle Association instructor who lives next door to the church which was targeted in the bloodbath, grabbed his AR-15-style rifle after hearing the gunfire.
Willeford shot the killer in the leg and torso, before Kelley dropped his weapon and drove away in his SUV. It appears the rampage could've been even worse were it not for the quick action of Stephen Willeford.
Willeford said later, "I thank my God, my Lord, protected me and gave me the skills to do what needed to be done. I just wish I could have gotten there faster."
Willeford, 55, didn't hesitate to act. He was at home Sunday when his daughter made him aware that she heard gunfire at First Baptist Church nearby, according to the Guardian newspaper, in an article published Tuesday, November 7. He found his rifle in his weapon safe and then charged into action.
The real life hero loaded his magazine and sprinted barefoot across the street to the church where he saw the gunman. It wasn't the Old West, but it was a scene reminiscent of many frontier movies, as they exchanged gunfire.
"He saw me and I saw him," Willeford said. "I was standing behind a pickup truck for cover. I know I hit him. He got into his vehicle, and he fired another couple rounds through his side window. When the window dropped, I fired another round at him again."
As the murderer fled in his vehicle after the exchange, the still barefoot Willeford flagged down a driver. Johnnie Langendorff said he had been driving to Sutherland Springs to pick up his girlfriend when a man who had been exchanging gunfire suddenly landed in his truck.
Willeford told Langendorff, "That guy just shot up the Baptist church. We need to stop him."
In a chase scene as exciting as the make believe one in the movie Bullitt, the two heroes pursued the bad guy at speeds up to 90 miles per hour. The killer finally hit a road sign and flipped his vehicle into a roadside ditch.
Investigators have now concluded Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The Good Samaritan has overnight become an example for pro-gun advocates to use when defending their Second Amendment rights to bear arms.
Investigators Attempt To Open Killer's Phone
Investigators have not yet been able to open the I-phone of the mass killer. In an attempt to delve further into the background of the man who murdered people as they sat in their pews in church, investigators are attempting to open the man's cellphone. They are reportedly in talks with Apple seeking help with the investigation.