FLORESVILLE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – A hymn and an acoustic guitar opened a memorial service for victims of Sutherland Springs’ massacre.
Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott were among those attending and speaking at the packed Floresville High School football stadium, where many in the crowd stood, swayed and sang along with the guitarist.
Pence told the crowd that the shooting at the First Baptist Church — which left 26 dead, including the unborn baby of one of those slain — was the worst mass shooting at a church in American history and called the gunman “deranged.” He added that “whatever animated the evil that descended on that small church, of the attacker’s desire was to silence their testimony of faith, they failed.”
“When one part of America hurts, we all hurt. When one part of America struggles, we all struggle. And when one part of America cries out for help, we come together,” said Pence.
Abbott began the service by praying “for healing and for help” and proclaiming Tuesday a statewide day of prayer.
Abbott said Texans come together at times of crisis and tragedy, as they did after Hurricane Harvey. He said, “It’s what we do.” People in the crowd answered “amen.”
A small clutch of victims’ family members sat off to the side on the running track.
When Abbott recognized one of the men who shot at and pursued the attacker, the man stood, as did many in the crowd as they cheered.
Before the prayer vigil, Vice President Pence, his wife Karen and Governor Abbott met with church members who are recovering in the hospital from injuries during the mass shooting.
Pence tweeted about it along with a couple of photos.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)