Latest On Texas Church Mass Shooting From Wilson County News Editor

Nov 5, 2017
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NOEL KING, HOST:

We're starting today's program in Texas, where news broke earlier today that someone walked into a church in the small town of Sutherland Springs and opened fire. Now, a lot of the details are still unclear, but we wanted to get a sense of what we know and what we don't. To hear more, we're joined now by Nannette Kilbey-Smith. Nannette, do I have that right?

NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH: Yes.

KING: All right. Nannette is an editor with the Wilson County News. That's a paper that covers the area where the shooting took place. Nannette, thank you for joining us. We really appreciate it.

KILBEY-SMITH: Thank you.

KING: Can you tell me, Nanette, when did you first hear about the shooting?

KILBEY-SMITH: Very shortly after it initially happened.

KING: Tell me, how did you hear about it? It's a rural area where you are, a small town. Did someone call you?

KILBEY-SMITH: A phone call from a friend, yes.

KING: A phone call from a friend. Was your friend somebody who lives in the area who had witnessed what happened or just somebody who had heard?

KILBEY-SMITH: No, it was not a witness, someone who heard about it and knew that I would need to know.

KING: Give us a sense of what this area is like. You cover the region. What is Sutherland Springs like? What are the neighboring towns like?

KILBEY-SMITH: We're a very rural community. We have four main towns in Sutherland Springs. It's actually an unincorporated community, very small, very close-knit. The church where this occurred is actually the heart of the community. That's where things happen on Sunday morning if anything is happening. And it's your typical small-town church, you know, white-framed building. It looks quintessentially rural America.

KILBEY-SMITH: Nannette, can you walk us through what happened?

KILBEY-SMITH: I don't have the details. All I know is probably what you've already gathered from what's been shared around is that a shooter pulled up outside the church, sprayed the outside of the church with gunfire, went inside, fired indiscriminately and came outside and took off.

KING: Nannette, I know that we've been - everybody has been waiting ardently for an official response. What is the latest news that you've heard officially? Is there any response from the state or the town itself?

KILBEY-SMITH: There is a press conference which is - we're waiting momentarily for news from that as I speak - but - to get the official word. And it's been a response from the federal level all the way down. We have FBI, ATF on the scene, the Texas Rangers, Homeland Security, every county agency that can be in any way helpful to the state agency.

KING: It sounds like just a massive response.

KILBEY-SMITH: It has been and as you would expect with something of this magnitude. And we're thankful for the response in this. I know that the community is very thankful for the prayers that we know are coming from around the world at this point in time. And that's what this community needs most right now is the prayers. They're in shock and disbelief.

KING: Tell me what you've been hearing from people in the community. What are they telling you?

KILBEY-SMITH: People heard shots. They didn't think that it was shots initially and then realized that it was. A quiet Sunday morning, so it was a complete shock to the system that anything like that was happening. And everyone that could responded as best they could.

KING: From what we've heard, this is a very small and very tight-knit community. Can you tell us about that? Is this a place where everybody knows everybody else?

KILBEY-SMITH: Yes, very much so, very much so.

KING: And, Nannette, what is...

KILBEY-SMITH: Most of life actually circulates around the church, within the community. And everybody does know everybody.

KING: The churches is a center of life in the town?

KILBEY-SMITH: Very much.

KING: Nannette, what is next? You're waiting on the official response, I imagine, along with all of us?

KILBEY-SMITH: Yes.

KING: Nannette Kilbey-Smith is an editor with the Wilson County News. Nannette, thank you so much for coming on. We really appreciate it.

KILBEY-SMITH: Thank you for the time. And, again, I do want to express we don't just cover the news here. These are people that we know. And so we're in as much shock and disbelief as the community is. But we do express thanks on behalf of the community here for the prayers being sent. They are greatly appreciated and very much felt.

KING: Well, Nannette, thank you again. And our condolences for what you guys are going through out there. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.