SUTHERLAND SPRINGS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The gunman who killed 26 people at a small-town Texas church went aisle to aisle looking for victims and shot crying babies at point-blank range, a couple who survived the attack said.
Rosanne Solis and Joaquin Ramirez were sitting near the entrance to the First Baptist Church on Sunday when they heard what sounded like firecrackers and realized someone was shooting at the tiny wood-frame building.
In an interview with San Antonio television station KSAT, Solis said congregants began screaming and dropped to the floor. She could see bullets flying into the carpet and fellow worshippers falling down, bloodied, after getting hit.
For a moment, the attacked seemed to stop, and worshippers thought that police had arrived to confront the gunman. But then he entered the church and resumed “shooting hard” at helpless families, Solis said.
The gunman checked each aisle for more victims, including babies who cried out amid the noise and smoke, Ramirez said.
The couple survived by huddling close to the ground and playing dead. Solis was shot in the arm. Ramirez was hit by shrapnel.
About 20 other people were wounded. Investigators collected at least 15 empty magazines that held 30 rounds each at the scene, suggesting the assailant fired at least 450 rounds.
The Texas shooter issued one order to his victims as he prowled the tiny church: “Everybody die, motherf–ker!”
That was all Devin Kelley said as he methodically killed 26 people and injured 20 more inside the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs on Sunday, survivor Rosanne Solis told ABC affiliate KSAT.
Kelley opened fire from outside the church, then paused before entering and resuming his onslaught. The brief halt in gunfire gave Solis hope that the cavalry had arrived — then Kelley issued his chilling command, the survivor said.
“I thought it was the police when he went inside because everyone got real quiet. Everyone was saying, ‘Be quiet. It’s him. It’s him.’ Then he yelled out, ‘Everybody die motherf—!’ and he started shooting again,” she recalled.
Solis, who suffered a gunshot wound to her shoulder, said her only option was to play dead.
“There was nowhere to go,” she told ABC News. “I played dead, and I made sure that I hid myself good underneath that bench. I saw bodies with a lot of blood — that’s all I saw because I wasn’t about to get out from where I was hiding.”
“I shouldn’t have gone to church that day,” she remembers thinking as she huddled under the pew.
Kelley targeted anyone who made a peep, and had no qualms about shooting babies who couldn’t control their fear, her husband Joaquin Ramirez told the San Antonio Express-News.
“The babies were crying, and when they were crying, the rod [punishment]: Rat-tat-tat-tat,” Ramirez told the outlet in Spanish translated by The Post.
Ramirez, who was hit by shrapnel in the fracas, held a finger to his lips to silence 14-year-old victim Annabelle Pomery — the pastor’s daughter and one of 26 killed — as she cried for help, because he know Kelley would target her for making noise, Ramirez told ABC affiliate KSAT.
The gunman opened fire some time after 11:20 a.m., according to officials. By 11:30 a.m., Ramirez had crawled out of the line of fire and called 911, the station reported.