Survivors recount horror of Texas church shooting: 'He shot anyone who got in the way'

Published: Wednesday, November 08, 2017 @ 3:17 AM

WATCH: Texas Church Shooting Survivor Said, ‘I Knew I Was Going to Die’

Joaquin Ramirez and Rosanne Solis walked into First Baptist Church on Sunday just minutes before the shots began to ring out.

Victims Of Texas Church Shooting

Ramirez, 50, and Solis, 57, a longtime couple who live in First Baptist’s neighborhood, were sitting in their usual spot — fourth row on the left side — at the small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where 26 people were killed Sunday morning and another 20 were injured.

>> Texas church shooting: 8 relatives, pastor's daughter among victims of shooting

The couple had arrived around 11 a.m., when the service began. The church band had played at least one worship song, and church members were beginning weekly announcements. People were still greeting each other, hugging and waving toward one another.

Then Solis and Ramirez heard what sounded like firecrackers.

“That’s when the shots started,” Solis said. “Everybody started running and screaming.”

>> Devin Patrick Kelley: What we know about Sutherland Springs Baptist Church shooter

The first shots appeared to be coming from the roof, Solis and Ramirez said.

Suddenly, Ramirez felt heat rush up his left ankle. Solis felt the same, but on her left arm. They both dropped to the ground. Ramirez draped his body on top of Solis.

A second round of shots banged from above, then Ramirez and Solis heard First Baptist’s front doors open. The shooter, now identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, was inside.

>> Texas church shooting: Gunman previously escaped mental health center

He yelled that everyone was going to die, Solis said, and started shooting again.

“I could see his feet moving,” Solis said. “He shot anyone who got in the way. Even babies. It didn’t matter.”

Kelley moved down the middle aisle of the two rows of seating at the church, picking off person by person.

He approached the stage and shot there, too, Ramirez said. At that moment, Ramirez crawled toward the front doors and escaped. He ran to find police.

>> Texas church shooting: Air Force admits it failed to report Devin Kelley's past crimes

Inside, Solis tried to play dead underneath one of the church pews. She opened her eyes briefly and saw blood around her.

After Kelley had shot everyone at the stage, he appeared to move back toward the church doors, Solis said. He continued to fire.

After a few minutes, he appeared to run out of ammunition, Solis said. He dropped two rifles on the ground, she said, and ran out.

Solis was too afraid to move.

“I heard silence,” she said. “Then I heard screaming. Children were screaming. People were screaming.”

>> On Statesman.com: Complete coverage of the Texas church shooting

Solis slowly rose. She looked to her left and saw a young boy on his stomach. He wasn’t moving. She looked behind her and saw a man splattered with blood, his arms waved behind him and his head tilted back. In front of her, a man holding a little girl screamed through tears.

Dozens of people lay on the ground.

“I thought Joaquin was dead,” Solis said.

She picked up her shoes, which had fallen off, slipped them on and walked outside. Police and medical personnel would soon arrive. It had only been about half an hour since service began.

Solis could hardly think straight.

>> Read more trending news 

Later, as she was getting treated for the shot that pierced her left arm, she saw Ramirez approaching her.

Both couldn’t believe that each other had survived.

“We felt nothing but joy,” Ramirez said. “We were alive.”

Woman shot, killed at Mississippi Walmart by on-again, off-again boyfriend, police say

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

On-Again, Off-Again Boyfriend Shoots, Kills Woman At Walmart

A man is facing a capital murder charge after Starkville police accused him of shooting and killing a woman described as his “on-again, off-again” girlfriend at a Mississippi Walmart where she worked as an optometrist, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

The shooting happened around 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Walmart in Starkville. Police Chief Frank Nichols said a man fired several shots after walking into the store and confronting a woman, identified as Walmart Vision Center employee Shauna Witt, 42, the Starkville Daily News reported.

No other injuries were reported.

Witt was taken to a hospital, where she later died from her injuries, police said.

Police said they confronted a man at the scene of the shooting and detained him after a brief struggle. The man, identified as William Thomas “Tommy” Chisholm, was arrested and charged with capital murder.

Investigators believe the shooting was the result of a domestic situation. According to witnesses, Chisholm and Witt were in an on-again, off-again dating relationship.

SPD Press Conference - Walmart Shooting Incident

Posted by Starkville Police Department on Saturday, January 13, 2018

After the shooting, Justin Blaylock, who said he knew Witt for nearly two decades, described her as “a generous, kind soul,” the Daily News reported.

“She will be greatly missed by all,” he said. “(She was) just a genuine friend that cared at all times and was willing to lend a hand at any time.”

At the time of the killing, police said, Chisholm was out on felony bond for an incident related to the victim.

Police continue to investigate the shooting.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Girl convicted of killing friend after Facebook selfie shows her wearing murder weapon 

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 4:34 PM

Police See Murder Weapon in Facebook Profile Pic, Arrest Friend

A Facebook selfie with her best friend helped put a Canadian girl in prison after investigators spotted her in the photo wearing a belt she used later that night to kill the other teen.

Cheyenne Rose Antoine, 21, of Saskatoon, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Monday in the March 25, 2015 strangulation death of Brittney Jane Gargol. She was sentenced to seven years in prison.

CBC News reported that Antoine and Gargol, 18, were out partying together the night of the slaying. Gargol was found several hours later, mortally wounded, along the side of a road on the outskirts of Saskatoon near the city landfill. 

The man who found her told police she was cold to the touch, had no shoes on and that there was a belt lying near her body. Gargol died a short time later at a hospital. 

It took days to identify her, a task accomplished after police made public photos of her tattoos, along with images of the jacket and broken watch that were found on her body, CKOM in Saskatoon reported

Antoine initially told police that she and Gargol had gone to several bars before Gargol met a man at one of them and left with him. Investigators said she attempted to lead them on the wrong path by posting on Gargol’s Facebook page several hours after she killed her. 

“Where are you? Haven’t heard from you. Hope you made it home safe,” Antoine wrote, according to the Toronto Sun

She continued to post on Gargol’s page in the months after the homicide, including on a photo that Gargol posted of the pair just hours before she was slain. The victim made the photo, seen below, her profile picture shortly before she died. 


Posted by Dionisio Valentin Cerna Velasquez on Thursday, January 18, 2018

“Aweh, I miss you soo much, Bert! Wish heaven had visiting hours so I could come see you, but I'm so glad you came & visited me in my dream last night,” Antoine’s comment read, according to CBC News. “Looking forward to that day I see you again. Say hello to my mommy up there for me!”

Police investigators worked the case for nearly two years, using social media to create a timeline for Antoine and Gargol’s movements the night of the slaying. It was that last profile photo on Gargol’s page, however, that proved to be the break they needed.

Detectives noticed that Antoine wore a distinctive black belt, visible around her waist in the bottom left corner of the selfie that she and Gargol took together the night of the killing. The belt in the photo was the one found near Gargol’s dying body, CBC News reported.

The photo remained as Gargol’s profile picture for more than a year after her death. It has since been changed by her family. 

With a suspect in their sights, investigators were able to tear apart Antoine’s story about the pair bar-hopping the night of the crime by obtaining surveillance video from at least one bar that failed to show the girls where Antoine said they were. Another break came when a tip led police to a friend of Antoine’s, who told detectives that a panicked Antoine showed up at her house the night of the murder.

Antoine confessed to the friend that night that after getting into a drunken argument with Gargol, she hit her and then strangled her, CBC News said

She was arrested on suspicion of murder in March of last year. 

A plea deal between prosecutors and the defense brought the charge down to one of manslaughter. 

Crown prosecutor Robin Ritter praised the police work that ultimately led to Antoine’s arrest. 

“It’s quite remarkable how the police developed this information,” Ritter said. 

>> Read more trending news

Antoine admitted in court Monday that she killed her friend, but said she does not remember doing so. Her lawyer, Lisa Watson, told the court that Antoine, who suffered years of abuse in the foster care system, had been dealing with serious personal problems prior to the homicide. 

“My client had some very deep, personal issues that she was dealing with, and unfortunately, they turned into a very tragic situation for all involved,” Watson said, according to the Sun

Antoine’s troubled past, which began when she became a ward of the province of Saskatchewan at age 2, factored into her plea deal and sentence. CKOM reported that Antoine was in foster care at age 4 and spent a decade suffering physical and emotional abuse. 

Her criminal record began with car theft at age 12, two years before she reconnected with her mother, the station reported. She was exposed to heavy drug and alcohol use by her mother, who died about a year after being reunited with her daughter. 

At that point, she began moving between relatives, group homes and other institutions.

Ritter agreed with the defense that Antoine has serious personal issues. 

“This young woman has issues, and because of those issues, she is dangerous,” Ritter said, according to CKOM.

Those issues continued even after Antoine killed her friend. She was reported missing in August 2016 to Saskatoon police officials, who sought information on her whereabouts on Facebook.

At the time of her arrest for murder, Antoine was also awaiting sentencing for threatening a store’s loss prevention officer when she was caught stealing, CBC News reported. She threatened the officer with a needle that she claimed was contaminated with the HIV virus.   

Antoine issued a statement through her attorney Monday in which she said she cannot provide the answers she knows Gargol’s family members are looking for.

“She knows the family would like an explanation, a reason, but unfortunately, she can’t provide that,” Watson said. 

Gargol’s family provided victim impact statements during Antoine’s sentencing.

“Most days we can’t stop thinking about Brittney and what happened that night,” her aunt, Jennifer Gargol, said, according to CBC News. “What she must have felt fighting for her life.”

Gargol’s stepmother, Kristi Wickenhauser, also spoke in court, according to CKOM.

“You were her friend. She loved you, she respected you and she trusted you,” Wickenhauser said. “And instead you decided to wrap a belt around her throat and squeeze until you ended her life.”

Antoine apologized to Gargol’s family in the statement read by Watson.

“I will never forgive myself,” she said. “Nothing I say or do will ever bring her back. I am very, very sorry. It shouldn’t have ever happened.”

U.S. marshal killed, officers wounded while serving warrant in Pennsylvania

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 8:26 AM
Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 2:18 PM

U.S. Marshal Shot, Killed While Serving Warrant in Pennsylvania

A deputy U.S. marshal was killed and two police officers were injured Thursday morning when authorities said they were shot while serving a search warrant, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Neighbors of parents accused of holding 13 kids captive describe family as odd, reclusive

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 6:12 AM

13 Siblings Held Captive In California "House of Horrors"

Neighbors described the reportedly nightmarish situation at the Turpin home, where parents David and Louise allegedly kept their 13 children shackled to their beds and malnourished, as seeming like a “cult.”

Former neighbors said the children were made to march around for hours in the middle of the night, they told the New York Post.

A man named Mike, who did not want to give his full name and was a neighbor of the Turpins when they lived in Murrieta, California, told the Post, “I thought they were like a cult. They would march back and forth on the second story at night. The light would be on the whole time, and they would be marching the kids back and forth.”

>> Police: 13 siblings held captive in California residence

Mike said he would arrive home late from his job at a hospital and see the children marching through the upstairs rooms of the Turpin home between midnight and 3 a.m.

David and Louis Turpin were arrested Sunday in their Perris, California, home after one of their daughters called police for help, saying she had managed to escape the house with a cellphone. When police arrived, they reportedly found the siblings, ages 2 to 29, living in squalor and looking very thin, with several of the kids shackled to furniture.

Mike said his wife, Myrna, called the family “clones,” saying the Turpins all spoke “robotically, in a monotone and at the same” time during the few occasions on which Myrna interacted with them at a local grocer.

However, Mike told the Post that he and Myrna never called the police because they didn’t see anything that suggested they needed to. They just thought the parents were a bit odd.

Mike, as well former neighbors from when the Turpins owned a farm in Rio Vista, Texas — which the family left due to foreclosure — remarked on the amount of trash that the family accumulated.

“I ended up calling the police because of the trash and everything that was left there,” said former Texas neighbor Randy McClain. “There was a brand new pickup truck covered in [trash] — a whole truck bed full and overflowing to the ground with trash: diapers, Spam cans, potted meat cans, just overflowing.”

The Daily Mail got access to the Turpin’s Perris backyard and found a Disney-themed fountain situated in a messy yard in which “piles of metal pipes could be seen strewn around, along with a rusty set of metal garden furniture and some diaper boxes.”

>> Read more trending news 

Through the screen door, the Daily Mail spied piles of clutter, including what appear to be stacked books, within the house.

Neighbor Leticia Gomez, 45, who lives directly behind the Turpin home, told the Daily Mail that she wasn’t aware there were any kids in the house. She described the Turpins’ garden as unkempt and “scruffy.”

Another neighbor, Andria Valdez, said she did know there were children living in the home and that she had seen them before. She joked that the Turpins reminded her of the vampire family in the “Twilight” books and movies, because they were “really, really pale” and “only came out at night.”