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story.lead_photo.caption Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen (right), on Wednesday greet Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (in wheelchair) and Abbott’s wife, Cecilia, in San Antonio. The Pences arrived to meet with victims of Sunday’s church shooting.

The gunman who committed the massacre in a rural Texas church fired continuously for several minutes, methodically shooting his victims -- including small children -- in the head, execution-style, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said Wednesday.

A video camera captured the bloodbath inside the church, which left 26 people dead and 20 wounded -- the worst mass shooting in Texas history -- and state and federal investigators have reviewed that footage. The official estimated that the shooting in the video lasted about seven minutes. The church routinely recorded its services and often posted the resulting videos online.

The killer, armed with an assault-style rifle, went to the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday morning with magazines capable of holding more than 400 rounds of ammunition, but it is not clear how many shots he actually fired, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.

On Wednesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety released the names of the dead -- 10 women, seven men, eight children, and the unborn fetus carried by one of the victims, Crystal M. Holcombe. The youngest of the children was 1; the oldest of the adults was 77.

Eight of those gunned down belonged to a single family, the Holcombes and the Hills. One victim, Annabelle R. Pomeroy, 14, was the pastor's daughter.

The gunman, Devin Kelley, 26, was convicted in 2012, while he was in the Air Force, of assaulting his first wife and her son, a toddler, and he served time in a military prison. Under federal law, that should have prevented him from having firearms, but the Air Force admitted Monday that it had failed to forward information about his case to the national databases used for gun purchase background checks.

Defense Secretary James Mattis has directed the Pentagon's Office of the Inspector General to look into what happened in that case and review the reporting system in general. Several investigations and incidents have shown that the databases, run by the FBI, suffer from spotty reporting of criminal cases by the states and the military.

In 2015, Kelley tried unsuccessfully to get a Texas license to carry a handgun -- a failure that may have been linked to an animal cruelty charge against him the year before. While he was living in Colorado Springs, he was charged with a misdemeanor for beating his dog. A judge imposed a deferred judgment, and the charge was dismissed two years later, after Kelley completed a court-ordered period of probation.

After Kelley sought a license to carry a firearm, the Texas Department of Public Safety notified him that his application was delayed because of a "possibly disqualifying issue," the department said in a statement issued Wednesday, declining to elaborate. The department said it asked him for more information regarding his application, but he did not respond, so the application was denied.

An applicant for a carry license must report all arrests, no matter the outcome, and it is not clear whether Kelley reported the animal cruelty case. A background check by the department would not have turned up his military conviction, but it might have revealed the Colorado case. Even a deferred judgment, like Kelley's, can be grounds for denying a license, and so can failure to disclose part of the applicant's criminal history.

Kelley had bought four firearms, including the Ruger AR-556 semiautomatic rifle he used at the church, passing a background check each time. Investigators have recovered three of the weapons and are still searching for the fourth. The gunman also had an Apple iPhone with him, according to people familiar with the investigation, but the FBI has not been able to unlock the device.

The FBI and Apple are bracing for a potential fight over encryption, according to people familiar with the matter, recalling a 2016 standoff when the locked and encrypted iPhone of a gunman in San Bernardino, Calif., led to a court battle.

The federal government and the company have shied away from open confrontation since the 2016 encryption issue. In that fight, the Justice Department tried to force Apple to unlock the dead terrorist's phone. The company refused, arguing that to do so would create a security weakness in the phones of all customers.

That legal fight sparked a national debate about the competing interests of national security, law enforcement, personal privacy and giant tech firms. But the larger legal question of whether the government could force companies to provide access to phones and other electronic devices was never answered by the courts, because in the middle of the fight over the San Bernardino phone, the FBI found a private firm that could access the device.

As Kelley left the church, an armed bystander shot the gunman twice. The killer dropped his rifle and fled in his car, and the bystander and another man gave chase. The gunman shot himself in the head with one of two handguns he had taken to the church and was found dead after his car crashed.

Law enforcement officials have said Kelley had an ongoing dispute with the family of his estranged second wife, but they are still trying to determine if anything else led to the slaughter.

Kelley had attended the church in the past, and his mother-in-law was a regular there, though she was not present during the shooting. His wife's grandmother was one of the people he killed.

Officials have said they have no indication so far that anyone else was involved in the massacre, or that it was politically or religiously motivated.

Information for this article was contributed by Devlin Barrett and Ellen Nakashima of The Washington Post.

A Section on 11/09/2017

Print Headline: Gunman at Texas church fired execution-style, official states

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  • Foghorn
    November 9, 2017 at 4:20 a.m.

    Interesting that there's little outcry over the killing of 8 children with a gun but had they been aborted all hell would break loose.

  • RBear
    November 9, 2017 at 5:50 a.m.

    As has been the case in the past, the chance for a true discussion on gun control is fading into the sunset because of gun nuts like Pack and others. Not once during these past few days did he ever offer up any rational reason for owning an AR-15 style weapon, the gun of choice of mass shooters. The NRA has served them well while helping raise that "great" America to the point of having one of the highest rate of homicide by gun in the world.
    I was chatting with a few friends from other countries during the week and they are amazed at this gun craze by some of our citizens. They can't comprehend why we allow this to continue. In their countries, the homicide rate is much lower even though crime rates are not much different. The only region of the world where gun violence is as high or higher, other than war torn regions, is Central and South America which we often consider third world. Are we becoming a third world thanks to the stupidity of gun nuts?

  • abb
    November 9, 2017 at 10:13 a.m.

    Lets see here, a mentally deranged liberal democrat shoots up a movie theater in Colorado, a mentally deranged liberal democrat shoots up a school in Connecticut, a mentally deranged liberal democrat shoots up a softball game in VA full of Republicans, a mentally deranged liberal democrat shoots up a concert in Vegas, a mentally deranged liberal democrat shoots up a church in Texas (and stopped by an NRA member with an AR 15), a mentally deranged liberal democrat attacks a US Senator mowing his lawn (breaking 5 ribs), a mentally deranged Muslim whom deranged liberal democrats let in on a "Diversity Visa" rides down pedestrians......and you blame guns? We don't need gun control. We need liberal democrat control!

  • hurricane46
    November 9, 2017 at 11:10 a.m.

    abb, show some proof that they were all "liberal democrats" ok?

  • RBear
    November 9, 2017 at 11:16 a.m.

    abb's just running his mentally deranged Republican mouth to attempt to look "smart." The logic from the past few days has been pretty much bottom feeder type thinking. Typical Trump demographic and abb proved the point hands down.

  • 3WorldState1
    November 9, 2017 at noon

    And while not true of course, even if they were all deranged liberals, what difference would that make?
    Pack or anyone else can't tell you why he needs AR-15. Because he doesnt. They simply WANT one. There is zero need for anyone to have a gun like that. Other than the military.
    A well regulated...

  • Packman
    November 9, 2017 at 12:14 p.m.

    Hey RBear - The discussion is fading into the sunlight precisely because people of your ilk start name-calling ("nuts") instead of discussing meaningful solutions. You callously dismiss as irrational any critical thought and fact to which you disagree. Your haughty and arrogant rhetoric is precisely why the debate will die and/or you will always lose.
    As to your foreign friends, of course that cannot understand freedom in America because they haven't lived it. A great example comes from USA Today and their explanation of possible "modifications" to an AR-15. Bear in mind this was USA Today and not some Junior High newsletter. Ever heard of a "chainsaw bayonet"? I'm sure you haven't but take the time to Google it, which obviously nobody at USA Today had sense enough to do. They showed adding a real chain saw as a possible modification to an AR-15. Let that soak in for a minute.
    The ridicule of such nonsense was swift with people coming up with similar options. My favorite thus far was the Chuck Norris modification with a light saber, honey badger, and Kevin Spacey running close seconds. Yet, you want to lecture us on guns and gun control. SMH. SMMFH.

  • Foghorn
    November 9, 2017 at 12:21 p.m.

    Abb conveniently omits the biggest mass shooting - in Las Vegas last month - was perpetrated by - wait for it! - a TRUMPTARD like herself. She also mistakenly attributes the Newtown massacre to a 'liberal dem' when in fact the shooter's mother, Nancy Lanza, was a super conservative 'prepper' whose arsenal made it possible for her son to slaughter so many small children. Thankully, she too died at his hand. I wonder if abb's employer knows she packs heat on campus.

  • RBear
    November 9, 2017 at 12:27 p.m.

    Pack, as for my friends their freedom is no different than in America save the gun thing. That's what's perplexing to them. Remember, I said crime is lower there than here so guns to provide any more freedom than not having them. If anyone has been incapable of rational debate, it has been the gun nuts. If calling you Mr. Packman will get to actually consider banning AR-15 style weapons, I'll do it. I'm that serious about ending this crisis in America, which apparently you're not.
    Every time someone (PM, myself, JT, others) has brought up reinstating the ban on AR-15 style weapons, you and others have pushed back so hard with irrational points. abb is a great example.
    Not ONCE have you talked about solutions. All you've talked about is holding on to that security blankie you have today that serves no productive purpose.

  • Foghorn
    November 9, 2017 at 12:46 p.m.

    Impotent men have long compensated, or attempted anyway, with firepower. Don't know what abb's trying to compensate. Maybe her dad wanted her to be a boy. Maybe she's a closeted transgender conservative: can't come out, goes commando instead. Just hoping her unfortunate spawn, if any, don't have access to her stockpile.