Texas governor responds to church shooting

Gov. Greg Abbott discusses on "GMA" the latest on the victims and how the community is responding to the worst shooting in the history of Texas.
5:32 | 11/06/17

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Transcript for Texas governor responds to church shooting
Let's bring in the governor, governor Greg Abbott. Thanks for joining us. The victims and families are at the top of all of our minds. Have you had a chance to speak to them and how is the community coping? I did. After making my public remarks yesterday, I went over to the community center in Sutherland springs where all the family members of the victims were located and they were gathered in a very large room and candidly, George, the toughest thing that I had to do as governor was to give them some comments at the time. You could feel the weight of the room as I began to speak. But we talked about what they wanted to hear the most and what permeates their lives the most and that is the ability to connect with god at a time like this and then after that I had the ability in that community center to give them hug, shake hair hands and to share stories and then we immediately left there and went to a candlelight vigil where once again we had an outdoor prayer service with candlelights and I got to tell you there is one overriding thing that I took away from the people of Sutherland springs as well as the surrounding communities who were there who knew everybody in that very small town and that is this is an area of the state of Texas like so many parts of our state where people rely upon god more than anything else and believe me they were relying upon god last night. The only thing they wanted to talk about was prayer to god, connecting with god, looking to god for healing and for grace and I could see in their faces they were feeling it. These are strong and resilient people who understand that they have been through probably the most consequential challenge they may ever face in their lives but you could tell they were a community that was coming together. It was a powerful show of faith. What more do we know about the shooter and why he targeted the church at this time? You know, George, there's a lot of public comment overnight and this morning about why this particular church was targeted. I want you to know that as you might imagine law enforcement is very aggressively looking into this. I do believe that you will in a day or two learn that there was perhaps a connection with this particular church, something that has not been confirmed or nailed down yet and hence cannot be talked about but I think what I want to convey to you is I don't think this was just a random act of violence. It was two thing, one is a very deranged individual who I understand long before he was dishonorably discharged from the United States military was demonstrating some mental illness challenges, but also I think there was a particular reason why this particular location was targeted. Yeah, there's been some talk perhaps his in-laws had attended the church. Can you add anything on that? Well, I'm going to leave it at that, listen, it's very important that law enforcement have the ability to make the contacts they need to make in order to follow up and tie all the loose ends of this investigation up so I'm not going to comment on that further. He was able to buy a gun despite being convicted of domestic violence charges. How is that possible? Well, there seems to be some confusion about that. I will tell you this and that is we were able to look into state records and it's my understanding that he applied for a legal permit to carry a gun in the state of Texas and was denied that permit and then it was after that that he was able to obtain this gun. Now I know there is a part of the federal law that says it is a violation of federal law to knowingly sell a gun to someone that they know had been dishonorably discharged. The gun seller in this case, there is no evidence that that gun seller had any awareness that the individual had been dishonorably discharged but it looks like the federal law attempted at least to prohibit the sale of guns to people who have been dishonorably discharged in so you agree he should have never been able to buy a gun, correct? Well, that's precisely it seems to me what the federal law says. There's confusion as I point out in the law about a prohibition about selling a gun to someone you know was dishonorably discharged. But I don't know if there is a gap or not whether or not that information was reported by the federal military up to the chain of command to make sure that this was information that would be accessible to the federal authorities who allowed him to be able to buy that gun. Finally do we know how he died did he shoot himself or die in the crash? Was he shot by somebody else. Here's what we do know and that is he was shot by someone else as you probably have heard and reported on. That shot did hit him. He then dropped his gun, got into his car, drove away. He was chased as he drove away and later crashed. What we don't know is whether or not it was the shot where the local community citizen shot him that led to his demise or whether or not it was a self-inflicted wound. That will be information that we hope to be able to learn more about and get out to the public later on today. Governor Abbott, thanks for your time this morning.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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