SUTHERLAND SPRINGS (AP) – The pastor of a small-town Texas church that was the site of a massacre plans to demolish the building.
Pastor Frank Pomeroy told leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention that it would be too painful to continue using First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs as a place of worship. A national Southern Baptist Convention spokesman said Pomeroy discussed the plan this week with the denomination’s top executives who had traveled to the community in a show of support.
The spokesman, Sing Oldham, said Pomeroy expressed hope he could turn the site into a memorial for the more than two dozen people who were killed last Sunday and build a new church on property the church owns.
Vice President Mike Pence attended a memorial for the victims on Wednesday night. Pence told the crowd of mourners that the shooting at the First Baptist Church 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.
Governor Greg Abbott was also in attendance and began the service by praying “for healing and for help” and proclaiming Tuesday a statewide day of prayer.
On Wednesday, authorities released the names of the 26 victims in the shooting.
Among the victims were grandparents, young children, teenagers, and a pregnant mother along with her unborn baby.
The shooter, Devin Patrick Kelley, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he crashed his car. He had been chased by armed bystanders.
They say Kelley also used his cellphone to tell his father that he had been shot and didn’t think he would survive.
Kelley served in the Air Force from 2010 to 2014. He received a bad conduct discharge after he was court-martialed for assault on his wife and child. Kelley was confined by the military for 12 months. He had been living in nearby New Braunfels, where his neighbors were shocked to hear that he was the shooter.
Authorities stated Kelley was dressed in black tactical gear as he walked up to the church and started firing an AR-15. Kelley first shot from outside of the building, and then walked into the church to continue his attack.
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