Texas church shooting the worst of its kind in US history, says expert

The mass shooting inside a Baptist church in rural Texas on Nov. 5 that left 26 worshippers dead and around 20 others injured was the worst of its kind, according to a church security expert.

(REUTERS / Jonathan Bachman)An aerial photo shows the site of a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. November 6, 2017.

Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, entered the house of worship clad in ballistic gear and bore a Ruger military-style rifle during the 11 a.m. worship service of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs on Sunday. He then opened fire, Christianity Today (CT) detailed.

Authorities said the latest Texas church shooting killed at least 26 people, ranging from an unborn child to a 77-year-old.

Speaking to CT in an interview, church security expert Carl Chinn said the death toll marked the Texas church shooting as the worst of its kind in the history of the country. Based on statistics he had compiled, the incident was the 14th mass murder in a church in the U.S. since 1963.

In light of what happened, Chinn advised all churches to station at least one trained security personnel outside the church and another one inside to monitor the place for suspicious activity. He also reminded them that Texas already has a law which makes it easier for churches to gather volunteer security guards, but many still do not know about this policy.

Meanwhile, ABC published a detailed report on the background of the suspect. The U.S. Air Force reportedly admitted that it was not able to report Kelley's 2012 domestic violence convictions to the National Criminal Information Centre. This move could have prevented him from having legal access to firearms in the country.

In addition, officials said Kelley had sent threatening messages to his in-laws, who sometimes attend services at the First Baptist Church. Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said the Texas gunman had previously been convicted of grievous bodily harm on a child and his wife.

Giffords Law Centre to Prevent Gun Violence executive director Robyn Thomas highlighted the need to "fix what is apparently a serious loophole" in the background check system.

Kelley was shot thrice by a local named Stephen Willeford as he exited the church. Authorities said he tried to escape from the place after the incident and was found dead of gunshot wounds.