Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar On Church Shooting

Nov 5, 2017
Originally published on November 5, 2017 7:32 pm
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NOEL KING, HOST:

We are joined now by Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas's 28th District. That includes the town of Sutherland Springs. He's joining us on the line from Laredo, Texas. Congressman, thank you for joining us. And, of course, our condolences to you for what's going on out there.

HENRY CUELLAR: Thank you, ma'am. Thank you so much.

KING: Congressman, I understand that you spent some time in Sutherland's Springs. Can you give us a sense of what the town is like?

CUELLAR: It's a small (inaudible) less than 400 individuals where people know each other, where people basically know, you know, that you don't have anything like this happening. And therefore, when you have evil strike a small community of less than 400 individuals, it's just very hard to fathom. And that's what people are looking at. I got names of some individuals that got killed, and I rather wait until, you know, until, you know, the proper notice is given. But I can tell you that people know each other. People know who got killed. People work with those individuals. People went to church with those individuals. So it's a community that's facing a very difficult time at this moment.

KING: And I understand the church where the shooting took place, as is the case I imagine in a lot of small towns, the church is the center of town life?

CUELLAR: Exactly. I mean, like any other community, you have - the center - library. You know, people go there. You know, they have events there. They have cake sales. It's just, you know, it's the center of life. And it's just, you know, it's going to be one of those things that it's going to take a long time for the community to get over this because, again, once all names are released, we're going to know everybody that got hurt. It's not where it's a name that people don't know. In a small community, people are going to know every single individual that got killed or injured there in Sutherland Springs.

KING: Well, Congressman, have you spoken to community members today? And what have they told you?

CUELLAR: Yes, I have. I've spoken to Sheriff Joe Tackitt, who's the sheriff for Wilson County. I've known him since I started representing the area 13 years ago. He's a very able sheriff, you know, law enforcement official. I talked to County Commissioner Albert Gamez, one of the commissioners for Wilson County. I've talked to other folks there. And, you know, I will talk to Sheriff Tackitt later on today. I want to give him the courtesy of doing his work. I think they're about to do a press conference. So I want to give him time to do his work.

But I've talked to other folks. And it's one of those things that, you know, affects the whole community because everybody knows each other. It's not a name in the abstract. It's, you know, people know each other. You know, the sheriff there tells me that this person was from Comal County and that he believes that he had posted something on social media some days ago. The name, which I don't want to repeat his name, was the individual.

KING: No. And, in fact, Congressman, we should note the things that you're telling us come from local law enforcement. This has not been confirmed at the federal or national or state level yet, right?

CUELLAR: That is correct. But, you know, if you look at the map, you have San Antonio. Comal County is in the north. Just to give you a point of reference, it's north of San Antonio, an area that I'm familiar because I used to represent that area. And then you go southeast from San Antonio. And then you have Wilson County. And then at the very corner you have Sutherland Springs.

So if that individual came in from Comal County, it's kind of odd that this person just picked this small rural community. There has to be some sort of connection. I think as the investigation goes on, I think people will find out what happened here and what the connection is. But, you know, in my opinion, there has to be some connection, either knew somebody, related to somebody. There has to be a connection because you don't come from Comal County, go into Wilson County, going into the most rural part of Wilson County, a small community, and go into a church and start shooting. It has to be some sort of connection.

KING: And, again, we are waiting on an official response to all of this. Hopefully we will know more soon. Thank you so much to Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas. He's the Democratic representative of the 28th District. That includes the town of Sutherlands Springs. Congressman, thank you so much for your time.

CUELLAR: Anytime. Thank you so much. Bye-bye. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.