By Emily Pickering
On November 5, a gunman by the name of Devin Patrick Kelly opened fire on a small rural church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. 26 people from the ages of 7 to 72 were killed by these gunshots, and 20 additional people were wounded. After another armed man started shooting at Kelly, he retreated and was chased by neighbors into another county. While in this county, he eventually crashed his car and was found dead in his vehicle.
Scott Holcombe’s father, the preacher of the church, was shot and killed as well as his mother. Scott Holcombe spoke after the shooting and said “I’m dumbfounded. This is unimaginable. My father was a good man, and he loved to preach. He had a good heart.” One woman named Sandy Ward, had family members who were also shot at the church, including her daughter-in-law and three of her grandchildren. The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, responded to the shooting by saying Texas was asking “for God’s comfort, for God’s guidance and for God’s healing for all those who are suffering.”
The First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs has since been turned into a memorial for all those affected by and killed in the shooting. The associate pastor of the church, Reverend Mark Collins, believes this memorial will help with the healing process that the community needs.
The interior of the building has been painted completely white from floor to ceiling. Inside, there are 26 white chairs for the 26 victims killed, each one placed in the location where the person was shot. On each chair is a single red rose and the name of the victim written in gold cursive. There is also one pink rose which is seated on a chair in honor the unborn child of Crystal Holcombe, Scott Holcombe’s wife, who was two months pregnant when she was shot. There is a recording of some of the victims’ voices reading scripture and praying that plays inside of the memorial. At the front of the church there is a wooden cross and a poster with the scripture that was supposed to be read on the day of the attack. The scripture is Psalm 100 and it reads,
“enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.”
The day the memorial opened, the family members of the victims were allowed into the memorial first where they spent a few moments of silence before the media entered. This was a very emotional experience for them and one women was led out by a chaplain in tears. The pastor of the church, Reverend Frank Pomeroy, said, “I want the world to know that that building will be open so that everyone who walks in there will know that the people who died lived for their Lord and Savior.”