Sutherland Springs, the tiny town near La Vernia, Adkins and other Wilson County communities, is an area known for their friendly, strong, and resilient people. They are among the best of all Texans, being decent, God-fearing and family-loving folks. Even as media and social dwell on hate, evil and distraught, most of the families and residents I have spoken, with and listened to, are focused on love, healing and prayer.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said moments ago that they are sending help, not only in the investigation, but more along the lines of health, counseling and therapy for the grieving. “Both the US flags, as ordered by President Trump, and Texas flags, ordered by me, are flying at half staff because we are trying to send a uniting message and we will stand together in support…we will be by their side.”
The victims killed in the shooting inside a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas ranged in ages from 18-months to 77-years according to Texas officials during a press conference this morning. One resident confirmed with NEWS LEGIT that the 18-month-old was a girl, and one of at least 26 people killed in the Sunday massacre at First Baptist Church in the small town 30 miles southeast of San Antonio. Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt, the FBI and other officials told the press that about a dozen of the deaths were children.
Among the dead was Annabelle Pomeroy, the 14-year-old daughter of the church pastor, Frank Pomeroy and his wife Sherri who were both out traveling in independently in two different states. According to three San Antonio hospitals, at least 20 people were injured. Three children and two adults are in critical condition at University Hospital. At least eight others are also in critical condition in two other hospitals. Brooks Amy Medical Center (BAMC) received six adults and two minors, deemed having “critical, significant, life-changing injuries.”
More than 100 people gathered for a prayer vigil last night near the church with lit candles while some wept and others hugged.
Virtually every person in the close knit community have been personally impacted. Among the victims included at eight members of at least three generations of the Joe and Claryce Holcome family.
“Haley Krueger was a beautiful, vibrant, 16 year old girl, and was excited about the bright future ahead of her,” wrote family friend Tasha Niemann Wiatrek, on a Go Fund Me account set up to help. She loved babies, and had dreams of becoming a NICU nurse. In her mother’s words “Haley loved life and was the most dramatic person”.
“Sunday morning, November 5, 2017 Haley was amongst the crowd in the pews of a quiet country church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. She was doing what so many of you do on Sunday mornings, worshiping. Then, the unthinkable happened. A selfless evil man entered the church doors, taking the lives of 26 innocent souls, Haley being one of them.”
“As her mother and family enter the long road of grievance and healing, we want to assist them in any way possible. Especially in the upcoming days, struggling to coordinate and plan arrangements that lie ahead of them. This horrendous tragedy happened so sudden, and emotionally nor financially can anyone be prepared. We are asking that you open your hearts to this dear family and help us in gathering financial support as they mourn sweet Haley’s tragic passing.”
Another child, Zoe “has had 2 surgeries so far, she has a shattered pelvis and is looking at a minimum 4-6 weeks in the hospital,” wrote Callie Valentine of nearby La Vernia in a Go Fund Me account set up for the family. Zoe’s first grade teacher, Casey Pearish Pietka wrote, “My sweet precious Zoe. I love you sweetheart. You are such an angel and so strong. I’m praying for you sweetie.”
Cristopher Foster wrote they created a Go Fund Me account “in honor of Sarah (Slavin), who has lost half of her family. Her father was the guest speaker at church that day; she was running late. She has lost her father, mother, sister-in-law (who was pregnant), five nieces and nephews, and her best friend since childhood, Tara. This means her brother John has lost his mom, dad, wife, and three kids (with two more injured) in one day. Another brother has lost two children as well. Keep them all in your prayers. If we could all gather up some financial support to send this family during this devastation, it would be a blessing. This is too much to bear on their own, let’s be the Church!”
Note: NEWS LEGIT has elected not to post the name and photo of the suspect. We will not release the names of victims until it has been verified the family has been notified).
The 26-year-old suspect has a history of domestic problems with his ex-wife and her mother. The mother, who had been receiving threatening texts from him the pass couple of weeks, was a member of the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. The suspect, now dead, was discharged with “bad conduct” from the U.S. Air Force in 2014.
Officials say a local resident, Stephen Willeford, heard the shots and grabbed his AR assault rifle. “This good Samaritan joined with another good American from Seguin, Texas” pursued the killer as he drove away. During the chase, the suspect called his own father to tell him he had been shot shortly before he wrecked. He was found dead moments later. Johnnie Langendorff, drove up driving a truck who was approached by Willeford who had his rifle. Willeford had walked into the church to see the carnage and informed Langendorff of what had transpired and told him “we need to chase him down.
A source close to the investigation told NEWS LEGIT “after he talked with his dad, we think he shot himself. He told him he didn’t think he was going to make it. He was shot first by the guy who went across the church to stop him and more people might have been killed if not for him. He was wearing mask with a white skull on it…had black tactical clothing, and a ballistic vest. We found two guns in his SUV where he crashed at the curb near county roads 307 and 539. They were handguns, a Glock 9mm and a Ruger .22 pistol.”
“The shooter lived with his parents on a 30 acre ranch” near New Braunfels, Texas said one neighbor.
“He had been shooting his Ruger AR regularly on that property for the last several weeks.”