At least 26 churchgoers were killed when a gunman opened fire inside First Baptist Church in Texas during Sunday’s service.
Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. said once the shooting began inside the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church, there was likely “no way” for congregants to escape. The youngest victim was an 18-month-old, according to officials.
Read on to learn more about the victims in Sunday’s attack.
Annabelle Pomeroy was the pastor of First Baptist Church’s 14-year-old daughter. (Facebook)
Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his wife were out of town Sunday during the attack – but their youngest daughter, Annabelle, attended the service. The 14-year-old was among those killed, according to relatives.
“We lost more than Belle yesterday. One thing that gives me a sliver of encouragement is that Belle was surrounded yesterday by her church family that she loved fiercely and vice versa,” Sherri Pomeroy, her mother, said Monday.
“As senseless as this tragedy was, our Belle would not have been able to deal with losing so much family yesterday,” she continued. “Please don’t forget Sutherland Springs.”
She thanked American Airlines for helping her to return home to Texas.
“I lost a lot of friends and family this morning, but that just means Jesus needed them more.”
“Christ is the one who is going to be lifted up, and that’s what I am telling everybody. You lean into what you don’t understand. You lean into the Lord,” Frank Pomeroy added. “Whatever life brings to you, lean onto the Lord rather than your own understanding. I don’t understand, but I know my God does.”
Scott Pomeroy, Annabelle Pomeroy’s uncle, posted a tribute to his niece on Facebook.
“Heaven truly gained a real beautiful angel this morning along with many more,” he said. “I lost a lot of friends and family this morning but that just means Jesus needed them more.”
Annabelle Pomeroy was a seventh grader at Briesemeister Middle School. She was a first year student at the school, KABB-TV reported.
Bryan and Karla Holcombe, are remembered by friends for their generosity. They both were involved in prison ministry. (Facebook)
Bryan Holcombe, an associate pastor, was walking to the podium to lead the congregation in worship on Sunday when the shooting began, according to The Washington Post. His parents, Joe and Claryce Holcombe, said he was killed in the gunfire.
Several of his family members, including his wife, were also killed in the attack, the parents said.
Holcombe, who was filling in for the pastor, also did prison ministry and would often bring his ukulele to sing for the inmates, his cousin Nick Uhlig told the Associated Press.
“We knew when he was born, that he was going to be a preacher,” Joe Holcombe, his father, told The Washington Post. “His first word was God.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family – especially as so many were killed. The family does have immediate access to the funds, the GoFundMe page states.
“This is too much to bear on their own, let’s be the Church!” the page said.
Karla Holcombe, Bryan Holcombe’s wife, was also killed in the attack.
A mother and grandmother, Karla Holcombe was described by friends as a generous and loving person. Like her husband, she had also volunteered at prisons and taught Sunday School classes, the Daily Beast reported.
Bryan and Karla Holcombe owned a canvas repair shop in Floresville, Texas, according to the Daily Beast. They would often post photos of their children and grandchildren on social media.
“They really were loving people,” friend Jenna Brown told the Daily Beast. “They were about as close to a true life of Christ as you could get.”
The Holcombe’s daughter, Sarah Salvin, told the New York Times that she is comforted in knowing her parents’ faith.
“I feel like my parents, especially my mom, wasn’t scared,” she said.
Crystal Holcombe was reportedly eight months pregnant. (Facebook)
Crystal Holcombe was killed Sunday in church. She was eight months pregnant, according to the Associated Press.
Before loved ones started to post on her Facebook page, frantically searching to see if she survived the massacre, Crystal Holcombe posted about her two daughters, Megan and Emily, who had done well in their 4-H Club’s food challenge. She also posted earlier this month news that her grandfather had passed away.
The Washington Post reported that she homeschooled her children.
John Holcombe, Crystal’s husband, shared on Facebook Sunday morning that the Sunday School lesson this week was from Exodus on manna from heaven. Typically, that lesson is about God providing for people’s needs.
Facebook users have commented on that public post to express their condolences.
“She doesn’t even drink, smoke or nothing,” her cousin, Nick Uhlig, told the Associated Press. “She just takes care of kids; she raises goats and makes homemade cheese. That kind of thing, you know? They don’t go out dancing or anything like that. They’re real old-fashioned, down-to-earth.”
Her in-laws, Bryan and Karla Holcombe, were also killed in the attack.
Emily Holcombe, Crystal Holcombe’s daughter, was among those killed in the attack, her great-grandparents confirmed to the Washington Post. Her siblings, Megan and Greg, were also killed.
Emily was involved in a local 4H club and recently won third place in a cooking competition, her mother posted on Facebook a day before the shooting. She also competed in an archery tournament last month, coming in third place.
Like her mother and two of her siblings, Megan Holcombe died in the church shooting, the Washington Post reported.
Megan Holcombe placed first in a 4H cooking competition, her mother posted on Facebook the day before the shooting.
Greg Holcombe’s great-grandparents told the Washington Post that he was killed in the church massacre. His mother, Crystal Holcombe, and two siblings were also killed.
Marc Daniel Holcombe
Marc Daniel Holcombe, 36, also died Sunday, according to the Washington Post. He was the son of Bryan and Karla.
Marc Daniel Holcombe’s infant daughter, Noah, was also killed, according to the newspaper.
The infant daughter of Marc Daniel Holcombe was killed during the attack, the Washington Post reported. Noah Holcombe was only 18 months old.
Her father and grandparents were also killed in the attack.
Joann Ward reportedly attempted to shield her children from the gunman during the attack. (Facebook)
Joann Ward, along with some of her children, were killed in the attack, according to the Dallas Morning News.
During the attack, Ward was “shielding [her] babies from the shooter,” Vonda Greek Smith, a friend of Ward’s, said on Facebook.
Two of her children, Emily and Brooke, were reportedly killed in the shooting. Other children, Ryland and Rihanna, were injured in the attack. Smith posted on Facebook that Ward pushed Rihanna, 9, to the ground and prevented her from being shot.
In a message to Fox News, Smith said she would like her friend’s “precious strong motherly heart to be known.”
Emily Garza, 7, was killed during the attack. (Facebook)
Like other children, Emily Garza, 7, was sitting in the back of the church when the shooting began. Her grandmother, Sandy Ward, told MSNBC that she was among those killed.
“I’m numb,” Ward said. “My whole body’s just numb.”
She said the family had been attending the church for several years.
Emily’s mother, Joann Ward, was also killed.
Brooke Ward, 5, was killed when a gunman opened fire inside a Texas church. (Facebook)
Brooke Ward, Joann Ward’s 5-year-old daughter, was also killed in the attack, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Her mother, Joann Ward, was also killed.
Lula Woicinski White
Lula White was the grandmother-in-law of the gunman. (Facebook)
Lula White was the grandmother-in-law of the gunman behind the deadly church massacre. White, 71, was also killed in the attack, her sister confirmed to the Daily News.
“My sister was a wonderful, caring person — a God-loving person. She loved the people in her church. They were all her best friends,” Mary Mishler Clyburn told the Daily News.
Clyburn added that the “whole family is devastated.” She said White’s daughter, Michelle Shields, is the mother of the shooter’s second wife.
Clyburn also said that White’s husband passed away in July.
“My sister knew God, and I know that’s where she went. That’s giving me strength,” she told the Daily News.
On Facebook, Amy Johnson Backus, who said she is White’s niece, asked for prayers for her family.
“I have no doubt where [White] is right now. She is in Heaven laying her crowns and jewels at the feet of Jesus and celebrating,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.