Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt, Jr. was thrust into the national spotlight after a gunman opened fire into a small Baptist church in Texas on Sunday, killing 26 people and wounding more than a dozen others.
The shooting took place at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, which is located in Tackitt’s jurisdiction in Wilson County. The shooter has been identified as Devin Patrick Kelley by law enforcement officials.
Kelley was found dead in his car in Guadalupe County, just north of Wilson County. The FBI has been on scene helping with the investigation. President Donald Trump said the shooting was a mental health problem, not a gun control problem.
“I think that mental health is your problem here. This was a very — based on preliminary reports — very deranged individual. A lot of problems over a long period of time. We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries,” Trump said during his 12-day trip to Asia.
“But this isn’t a guns situation,” he said. “I mean, we could go into it, but it’s a little bit soon to go into it. But, fortunately, somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it would have been — as bad it was, it would have been much worse.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Joe Tackitt Was Elected Sheriff of Wilson County in 1992
Sheriff Joe Tackitt, Jr. was elected to office in 1992, according to a post on the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. He ran for re-election in 2016. At the time he said his office has 21 patrols officers, with five on duty at any given time.
Tackitt is a third-generation native of Wilson County. “I am from here, for here and will continue to make Wilson County the best place to live,” he said in his bid for re-election.
Wilson County is located in central Texas, just southeast of San Antonio. It has a population of about 43,000 people, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. The county seat is in Floresville.
2. Joe Tackitt Said That As of Now the Gunman’s Motive Is Still Unclear
Sheriff Joe Tackitt told Fox News that the gunman, identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, is dead and there is still no clear motive for the shooting.
“It’s something we all say, it does not happen in small communities. We found out today it does. We need your support,” he told reporters on Sunday during a press conference.
Tackitt then sent a message to the media about the coverage of the mass shooting. “Media, don’t blow it out there that it should have never happened because it does happen and we sincerely feel sorry for all of the people that are involved,” he said.
3. Joe Tackitt Praised Johnnie Langendorff, One of the Men Who Helped Bring Down the Gunman
Johnnie Langendorff, of Seguin, Texas, has been identified as one of the two men who helped stop the gunman after he shot 26 people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday.
According to KSAT TV, Langendorff’s girlfriend said he witnessed a shootout between Devin Patrick Kelley and another citizen near the church. Kelley took off in his truck and Langendorff drove after him and ran him off the road in Guadalupe County, just to the north of Wilson County. Langendorff got on the phone with 911 and led them to Kelley’s location. Police showed up moments later.
“I say he’s a hero,” Tackitt told CNN. “Had he not done what he did, we could have lost more people.”
4. Tackitt Said the Gunman Had ‘Other Weapons’
CNN’s Chris Cuomo interview Sheriff Joe Tackitt and asked if the Devin Patrick Kelley had other weapons besides what he used during the church shooting.
“Yes, there are other weapons, to my understanding. I mean even though he dropped the one, I mean, you know, there’s another church a couple of miles down the road. He could have stopped there. Who knows?” Tackitt said.
5. Joe Tackitt Said the Gunman’s In-Laws Attended the First Baptist Church
Sheriff Joe Tackitt said the shooting may have been a domestic issue, according to CBS News.
Devin Patrick Kelley’s former in-laws attended the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, and his former mother-in-law had received some threatening texts from him in recent days.
Kelley’s in-laws were not in the church on Sunday when the shooting happened,Tackitt said, according to CBS News. Kelley married in 2011 wand again in 2014.