President Trump on Monday said a mass shooting that occurred this past weekend at a Texas church signified a "mental health problem at the highest level."
According to the Associated Press, local officials have not publicly commented on the mental health of Devin Kelley, who authorities say shot and killed at least 26 people and wounded at least 16 others at a Texas church.
Details on the shooting
The shooting occurred Sunday morning at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. According to officials, Kelley used an assault rifle to open fire at the church, killing at least 26 people and wounding at least 16 others.
According to the Washington Post, another armed individual reportedly engaged with and began firing at Kelley as he exited the church, causing Kelley to flee the scene in his vehicle. Law enforcement authorities say Kelley later was found dead in his vehicle following a pursuit. Officials said it was unclear whether Kelley had shot himself or was shot by another individual.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called the shooting "the largest mass shooting in [Texas'] history." A statement from the Floresville, Texas-based Connally Memorial Medical Center said the hospital had taken in eight patients with gunshot wounds from the shooting and had transferred four of those patients to the San Antonio-based University Hospital because of the severity of the patients' injuries.
A spokesperson for University Health System, which includes the San Antonio-based University Hospital, Sunday night said the system had received nine individuals wounded in the shooting and expected to receive an additional patient being transferred from a rural hospital. The Brooke Army Medical Center in a release said it received eight patients injured in the shooting.
Trump links shooting to mental health care
When asked about the shooting during a news conference Sunday, Trump said, "This was a very, based on preliminary reports, a very deranged individual. A lot of problems over a long period of time." He continued, "We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries. But this isn't a guns situation." Trump added, "I think that mental health is your problem here."
Issues regarding mental health have long been part of the U.S. debate over access to firearms. Former President Barack Obama's administration and several lawmakers in 2013 launched federal and legislative efforts to improve the nation's mental health care programs following a series of mass-casualty shootings nationwide, including the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.
Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek said Kelley had served 12 months' confinement after being court martialed in 2012 for reportedly assaulting his spouse and child. Stefanek said Kelley in 2014 received a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force.
Trump in his comments did not address questions about whether policymakers should consider implementing stricter gun laws in the United States, AP reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 11/5; Gale, Wall Street Journal, 11/6; Parker, Washington Post, 11/6; Korn et al., Wall Street Journal, 11/5; Andone et al., CNN, 11/6).
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