SUTHERLAND SPRINGS (CBSDFW.COM) – The entire community of Sutherland Springs was impacted by the shooting at First Baptist Church on Sunday. The population of this small town is just over 600 people, and 26 of them were killed in the attack. This means that one out of every 25 residents there are now dead.
Among the victims were grandparents, young children, teenagers, and a pregnant mother along with her unborn baby.
Officials have not released the names of every victim, but a few details are emerging.
Haley Krueger dreamed of being a nurse. The teenager’s family members described her as a vibrant personality with a bright future ahead. The 16-year-old girl wanted to become a neonatal nurse, so that she could take care of babies who were born prematurely.
Krueger was a part of the crowd worshiping in the pews when a gunman burst into the building.
Lula White was 71 years old, and the grandmother-in-law of the shooter. Her granddaughter, Danielle, is the estranged wife of gunman Devin Kelley. White was a regular volunteer at First Baptist Church, according to friends. Her niece said on Facebook that there was never a time when she was not smiling.
“I have no doubt where she is right now,” the niece said, “in Heaven.”
Officials said that there was some sort of domestic situation going on between the shooter and his mother-in-law prior to the shooting. Kelley was angry, authorities stated, and had sent threatening text messages. However, the mother-in-law was not at the church at the time of the shooting.
Robert Corrigan was an Air Force veteran. He and wife Shani had two sons, including one who is also part of the military. The couple graduated from Harrison High School in Farmington Hills, Michigan. They later moved to Texas and became members of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.
“Bobby was an amazing man, and Shani was his post beside him,” said Bob Somers, Robert’s uncle. “We lost a young man that loved the military, that loved to serve his country. He was 30 years in the service.”
Pastor Frank Pomeroy and wife Sherri were out of town during the shooting, but later learned that their 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle, was killed in the attack. Their only comfort is that Annabelle, when she died, was surrounded by church members whom she loved.
The parents spoke to the media on Monday, and stated that they lost more than a child to the shooting, because the church is like a part of their family, too. “We’ve had a long night with our children and grandbabies we have left, crying,” the pastor said one day after the attack.
“We were a very close family,” Sherri Pomeroy added. “We laughed together, we cried together, and we worshiped together.
Indeed, the shooting ripped apart families. In one case, the victims spanned three generations. Eight members of the extended Holcombe family were killed on Sunday. Bryan Holcombe was filling in as the pastor at First Baptist Church on the day of the attack. He died, along with wife Karla, son Marc, and Marc’s infant daughter, Noah.
Crystal Holcombe was the pastor’s pregnant daughter-in-law, and already a mother to five children. Crystal died as well, along with three of her kids.
Meanwhile, the Ward family lost two generations. Joann Ward was at the church when the gunfire erupted. She was killed, as were two of her daughters, 5-year-old Brooke Ward and 7-year-old Emily Garza. Doctors tried to save Garza’s life, but she died at the hospital from her injuries.
Two other children from the Ward family managed to survive. When the shooting started, 8-year-old McKinley hid under the church pews. The gunman’s bullets took the glasses off of her face. Another child, Ryland, was shot four times. The 5-year-old kid is still recovering from surgery, one of 10 injured victims who remain in critical condition.
One of Joann Ward’s friends, on Facebook, wondered if it was “possible to physically feel your heart break.”