Neighbor who watched shooting unfold recounts what he saw

'I saw a couple of small children -- they were not moving'

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas – A resident of the small town of Sutherland Springs saw the deadliest mass shooting in modern Texas history unfold right across the street from his home.

Fred Curnow said he heard gunfire around 11:20 a.m. on Sunday. Being a gun owner himself, he said recognized the sounds and initially didn't think anything of it but when the rapid fire didn't stop he became concerned.

READ THE INITIAL REPORT: Gunman in Sutherland Springs church shooting ID'd as Devin Patrick Kelley, authorities say 

"I went to the window to look and I see an armed man dressed in riot gear -- I guess that's what you call it -- SWAT gear," Curnow said. "Fully masked, fully armored. He was just shooting the church from the outside."

Curnow said the gunman, identified Sunday night as Devin Patrick Kelley, "kept unloading clip after clip." He said Kelley went to a white SUV to reload his assault rifle, then went into the church where Curnow estimates Kelley unloaded another three clips of ammo. It's unclear how many rounds were fired.

RELATED: Here's everything we know about the Sutherland Springs church shooting

Curnow said he heard gunfire from a second gun and realized it was his neighbor returning fire on Kelley, causing Kelley to drop his own rifle, get into the white SUV and speed away from the scene.

Curnow's neighbor who shot at Kelley got into the car of another community member and pursued the gunman. Read more about that here.

Curnow said he went to the church to keep concerned and curious spectators from entering. He said many people showed up at the church wanting to know what happened and if their families were safe.

Curnow said he was standing at the doorway of the church helping a man reconnect with his loved ones when he looked around and saw shell casings and bodies.

"I'm right in the doorway and I looked around and there's just casings everywhere," Curnow said. "I looked to the side and I saw a couple of small children. They were -- they were not moving."

According to Curnow, a man and his niece were the only two who made it out of the church shooting alive. Curnow and his family were uninjured.

His wife's car was shot at, but he said it's nothing in comparison to what others lost.

Curnow expressed his gratitude to his neighbor for firing back at the gunman and chasing him down.

"By him having that gun he stopped him from doing more," Curnow said. "This doesn't happen everyday everywhere -- but when it does, I think it's the people who have the guns, not the guns themselves."

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About the Authors:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.