Sutherland Springs Residents Mourn Shooting Victims

Nov 7, 2017

Updated 8 p.m. Nov. 12

The residents of Sutherland Springs are trying to mend wounds after dozens of people were killed or injured Sunday in the largest mass shooting in Texas history.

 


The usually quiet town is now in a tragic spotlight as international news crews, law enforcement agencies, and some 400 townspeople try to understand what happened.

Sutherland Springs is full of prayer this week. People gathered across the street Monday from the First Baptist church to mourn lost friends, family and neighbors. Sherri Pomeroy’s husband Frank Pomeroy is pastor of First Baptist. She said churchgoers shared their lives every week.

“Our church was not comprised of members or parishioners,” she said. “We were a very close family. We ate together, we laugh together, we cried together and we worship together. Now most of our church family is gone. Our building is probably beyond repair.”

First Baptist Pastor Frank Pomeroy, left and Sherri Pomeroy.
Credit Joey Palacios / TPR News

The Pomeroy’s weren't at the church during Sunday’s shooting. But their 14-year-old daughter Annabel Pomeroy was. She was among the 26 killed.

“News media have been bombarding us with requests to share, comment, and appear, to celebrate Annabell,” she said. “However, as much tragedy as that entails for our family, we don't want to overshadow the other lives lost.”

Entire families were ripped apart Sunday. Several victims were children* – some died, others are recovering. Amber Main usually attends First Baptist, but didn't last weekend. She said she’s lost many people close to her.

"There's my youth pastor, their husband, one of my very close family friends, who was pregnant at the time,” she said. “Two little kids I know that I helped take care of. And somebody that was there for me through everything."

Among those Main mentioned is Crystal Holcombe, who was eight months pregnant. Holcombe was one of eight family members, spanning three generations, who died in the mass shooting.

For Sutherland Springs residents, like Jim Crosley, it seems almost unreal.

“I’m still trying to get it through my head why somebody would come down here and destroy somebody’s lives like they did,” she said.

Crosley’s mourning his family friend Joann Ward. Two of her children are also dead — Emily, age 7, and Brooke,  5. He said Joanne, 30, was too young for this.

“She was the good lady. All of them are. Good folks,” she said. “They worked hard for them. They took care of the kids and they made sure that they were all. You know they had to take care of the way they should be. They’re good folks."

Sutherland Springs residents gather in a prayer circle Monday, following a deadly shooting over the weekend.
Credit Joey Palacios / TPR News

Lorenzo Flores knew Joann Ward for more than 27 years.

“Joann lived in my neighborhood when she was little a little girl. She went to school with my boys. So I saw her grow up,” he said. “She was like a daughter to me you know. She'd go to our house like like or like she was one of our own.”

Flores runs a taco shop inside a convenience store near First Baptist Church, called Teresa’s Kitchen. Flores said he saw Ward all the time.

“She would come in the kitchen and ordered her chorizo and egg taco every morning, We already knew what she wanted,” she said. “... She worked up there at a daycare in La Vernia and H-E-B is up there you know so she’d save us the trip to bring us whatever we needed for the kitchen and stuff.”

He says losing Ward is like losing a daughter.

“It’s like you took a piece of my life because I’ve known her long, she was a part of my family,” he said.

Flores and others say it’ll take time to return to normal but things will likely never be the same.

Joey Palacios can be reached at joey@tpr.org or on Twitter @Joeycules

Correction: An earlier version of this story based on preliminary information from the Wilson County Sheriff. It was later discovered that eight children, including a unborn, were killed in the shooting.