First Baptist Church
Sutherland Springs, Texas
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Governor Abbott. Thank you for your strong and compassionate leadership in this hour of trial for the people of Sutherland Springs and the people of Texas as a whole. We admire you and appreciate you greatly.
Karen and I come to this place with a heavy heart, grateful to be joined by leaders in public life and law enforcement and to have the privilege to meet the leadership of this special church and the heroes that came alongside them.
We just met earlier with several members of this church who are recovering from injuries at Brooke Army Medical Center, and we were deeply moved by their faith and their resilience. In just a few moments, we’ll meet with families of the fallen and put our arms around them and assure them that every American has them in their hearts.
President Trump asked us to be here to say to the members of the First Baptist Church and to Sutherland Springs, we are with you. The American people are with you. And as the President said on Sunday, halfway across the world, “We will never leave your side.”
The Bible tells us that “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted,” and that will be our prayer for you and for this whole community.
Three days ago, evil descended on this small town and on this small church. We gather today to grieve with those who grieve, but also we gather in the resolve that this evil must come to an end in our land.
At President Trump’s direction, our administration is providing the full measure of federal resources to Governor Abbott and state and local authorities. The Attorney General has informed me there is already more than 100 FBI personnel working on the case here in Texas.
We now know it was a crime that the assailant was ever able to purchase a firearm in the first place. He lied on his application, had a history of mental illness, and there were bureaucratic failures.
I’m informed by Secretary Heather Wilson that the Air Force is moving aggressively to review why this error occurred, and that review will be completed in days, not weeks.
I can also report that the Department of Defense is conducting a review of its own, to ensure that the National Crime Information Center has the most up-to-date information on every branch of the armed forces. We will find out why this information was not properly reported in 2012, and we will work with leaders in Congress to ensure that this never happens again.
So we’re here to express our deepest sympathies, our resolve, but we’re also here to express our admiration for a special community of faith. Standing in this place is very humbling to me. Every American has been inspired by the heroes of Sutherland Springs — the first responders, law enforcement, the medical professionals, many of whom we met today whose swift professionalism saved lives, and the two Texas heroes, who I know don’t consider themselves heroes, who we had the privilege to meet on this street where they confronted, fired on, and chased down the assailant. These two brave men undoubtedly saved lives.
But I must tell you I think Karen and I are mostly inspired by this community of faith. The pastor and his wife are with us today. Others that we met at the hospital. And some who are no longer with us. We just met Gunney Macias (ph), who is recovering from serious injuries, shot five times. But I was told despite his injuries that Marine stood up and was triaging the scene, barking out orders. And we think of JoAnn Ward, who laid down her life shielding her children, ultimately saving her son.
Faith is stronger than evil. And the faith of this community is inspiring the nation. No attack, no act of violence will ever break our spirit or diminish the faith of the American people. So I’m here as Vice President to ensure that the full resources of the federal government are being brought to bear in support of the investigation and in support of these precious families that have suffered so grievously here in Sutherland Springs.
But we’ll also be here tonight for a prayer vigil at the local high school. And I would encourage every American looking on: Keep this community, keep these precious families — the families of the fallen, families of those who are recovering from their injuries, and all of those affected by this horrendous act of evil — in your prayers. Prayers make a difference.
I had one of the family members at the hospital today tell me that they feel the prayers of the American people. We’ll get through this. We’ll get through this through faith, and we’ll get through this on the basis of the good and strong people of this community and of this great state.