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 victims were an 18-month-old and unborn child, according to a list of the victims released by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Texas Wednesday to attend a prayer service for the victims of the shooting and visit with those recovering in the hospital. Read more about the deceased below.
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.
John Bryan and Karla Holcombe
John Bryan Holcombe, a 60-year-old 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.
Three generations of the Holcombe family, including Bryan’s wife, were also killed in the attack.
Bryan, 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 mother and grandmother, Karla, 58, was described by friends as a generous and loving person. Like her husband, she dedicated her life to ministry and children, family friends have said. They would often post photos of their children and grandchildren on social media.
Bryan and Karla owned a canvas repair shop in Floresville, Texas, according to the San Antonio Express. They had recently donated the building to another church so it could build a youth center. The couple previously donated land to still another church for a sanctuary.
“They were selfless people,” said Jim Miller, a business owner.
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.
The Holcombes’ 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.
The mother of five children, Crystal Holcombe’s first husband, Peter Hill, passed away in 2011 – leaving her a widow. But through church, Crystal would end up meeting John Holcombe and the two would marry in 2012.
When the shooting occurred, Crystal, 36, was pregnant, an aunt told the Associated Press. Crystal, the unborn child and three of her children died in the church.
Crystal's unborn child is included in the death count. Texas state law allows for a fetus in utero to be considered a separate crime victim.
“She was starting her life all over again,” a neighbor said. “That’s a crying shame.”
"They had actually just found out [about the pregnancy],” Michele Hill, her aunt, said. “They didn't think it was possible so this was just a miracle baby.”
Before loved ones started to post on her Facebook page, frantically searching to see if she survived the massacre, Crystal often lovingly posted about her children’s accomplishments on Facebook. More recently, she shared that two of her daughters – Megan and Emily – had done well in their 4-H club’s food challenge. She had also shared earlier this month news that her grandfather had passed away.
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.
Her in-laws, Bryan and Karla Holcombe, were also killed in the attack. John and Crystal’s 7 year old daughter Evelyn, were injured during the shooting but have already been discharged from the hospital. Her other son, Phillip, 15, hadn’t attended church that day.
Emily, Megan and Gregory Hill
Emily, Megan and Greg Hill, three of Crystal Holcombe's children, were also killed in the attack.
Emily, 11, was involved in a local 4-H 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.
Megan, 9, placed first in a 4-H cooking competition, her mother posted on Facebook the day before the shooting. Gregory was 13 years old.
Marc Daniel Holcombe
Marc Daniel Holcombe, 36, died Sunday. Known as "Danny" by friends, he was the son of Bryan and Karla Holcombe.
His infant daughter, Noah, was also killed.
The infant daughter of Marc Daniel Holcombe was killed during the attack. She was 18 months old.
Joann Lookingbill Ward
As the shooting began, Joann Ward’s motherly instincts kicked in as she attempted to shield her children. Two of her children – Ryland and Rihanna – survived the shooting. Joann, 30, and her two other daughters did not.
‘‘I didn’t get shot because I was hiding, and mama covered Emily, Ryland and Brooke,” Rihanna said after the shooting, according to family friend Vonda Greek Smith.
In a message to Fox News, Smith praised Joann’s “precious strong motherly heart.”
Two daughters, Emily and Brooke, were killed during the attack. Ryland, 5, was shot four times and underwent extensive surgeries.
Joann’s husband, Chris Ward, was reportedly asleep at home when the shooting began because he works the night shift. Michael Ward, his brother who lives near the church, drove to his house to check on the family when they heard the gunshots – and woke up Chris.
“He was pissed at me,” Michael told the Dallas Morning News, recounting that Chris just didn’t believe it at first. “I said, ‘I’m not lying to you, Chris, they’re all shot.”
Emily Garcia and Brooke Ward
Like other children, Emily, 7, was sitting in the back of the church when the shooting began. She reportedly later died at the hospital.
“I’m numb,” her grandmother, Sandy Ward, told MSNBC. “My whole body’s just numb.”
She said the family attended the church for several years.
Brooke, Joann Ward’s 5-year-old daughter, was also killed in the attack, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Lula Woicinski White
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 New York 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.
On Facebook, her occupation is listed as doing whatever is needed at First Baptist Church Sutherland Springs.
Clyburn added that the “whole family is devastated.”
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.
Another family member, Charity Sales, said on Facebook that she couldn’t remember a time when White “didn’t have a smile on her face and a crazy fun tactic up her sleeve.”
Scott and Karen Marshall
Scott Marshall, along with his wife, Karen, were among the victims in the Texas church shooting. The two recently retired to Texas, and were at the First Baptist Church attending services for the first time as they were trying out the church to see if it was a good fit for them.
Scott, 56, was retired from the Air Force and had been working as a civilian contractor and mechanic at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, his father, Robert Marshall, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Karen, 56, had just finished an assignment on Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland and was a master sergeant in the Air National Guard.
On their way to Texas, Scott and Karen stopped in Pennsylvania to spend time with family and throw a birthday party for Robert. They left for Texas last week – and were just settling back into their life together, Holly Hannum, Scott’s younger sister, told the newspaper.
Mike Norton said in a Facebook tribute that he served in the Air Force with Scott and Karen. He said that when they died, “A part of me went with them.”
Their “family is mine as well, and will be forever," part of the Facebook post read.
The couple had a son, two daughters and five grandchildren, according to the Tribune-Review.
Karen and Scott met while they were in the service together more than 30 years ago. She grew up in Nevada and wasn’t raised Baptist, but had attended a Baptist church in Maryland, her sister-in-law, Holly Hannun, told the newspaper.
“They wanted to try a Baptist church that was just 10 minutes from their house,” Hannun said.
Tara Elyse McNulty
After Tara McNulty, 33, moved back to Texas from Louisiana two years ago, her best friend would ask her to come back home. But home for McNulty was Texas, where she lived with her two children.
McNulty, who worked at the Aumont Saloon in Seguin, was killed when a gunman opened fire inside of her home church. Her two children were injured – her son will have surgery on Tuesday – but are expected to survive, Amber Maricle, a friend told Fox News.
“She was all about her kids. Her kids were her No. 1,” Maricle said, adding that she’s sure her best friend did whatever she could to protect her kids during the ambush.
Maricle and McNulty met when McNulty was a realtor in Louisiana and sold Maricle a house. But the relationship didn’t end there. The two would become fast friends, spending many nights on McNulty’s couch, eating pizza and watching “Gilmore Girls,” “Friends” or “Pitch Perfect.”
“She was lively, sarcastic, everybody’s best friend,” Maricle said. “My soul sister. We just got each other.”
Maricle said her friend had just gotten a second job – another way to support and care for her children.
On Facebook, Kevin Koenen, the manager of the Aumont Saloon, said McNulty was “an amazing person, co-worker, employee” and “most of all, a great friend.”
A benefit for McNulty is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at the Aumont Saloon. The benefit will have live music, a silent auction and barbecue, Koenen told Fox News. Proceeds will help with funeral expenses and her children’s medical costs.
A co-worker also started a GoFundMe account to help with costs.
“Tara was a great employee. She was conscientious, engaging, and always willing to do the little things,” the page said. “She was a sweet, kind and loving woman, mother and daughter and will be greatly missed by many.”
On Facebook, it was clear McNulty was dedicated to her children and her job. She would often share pictures of her kids’ accomplishments as well as upcoming specials and events at the Aumont Saloon.
At 16 years old, Haley Krueger already had dreams of becoming a neonatal intensive care unit nurse, her family and friends have said.
Her mother, Charlotte Uhl, told People that Krueger often attended the Baptist church and would arrive early in order to make breakfast for the fellow congregants.
“She just loved life and loved everybody she met,” Uhl said. “She loved her church. She was always hyper and ready for anything.”
Krueger’s father passed away two years ago, Uhl said.
A fundraising page, set up to help with financial costs in the aftermath of the attack, stated that Krueger loved babies and “was excited about the bright future ahead of her.”
Robert and Shani Corrigan
Originally from Michigan, Robert and Shani Corrigan were high school sweethearts.
The Clare County Director of Veterans Service confirmed the couples’ death in the Texas church shooting, WNEM-TV reported. In the statement, Director Renee Haley noted that Robert “held the track record” at Harrison High School for many years.
Robert was an Air Force retiree. They both were 51 years old.
“Bob and Shani gave their lives to God, ministry and the Air Force,” Sharon Corrigan, Robert’s sister, said in a Facebook tribute. “They loved large and they lived in that little tiny church. Bob loved to sing and praise God and it is so beautiful that America will always remember him and Shani this way.”
She added that Robert was a chief master sergeant and was often called “Chief” by those who knew him.
"Bob and Shani gave their lives to God, ministry and the Air Force."
“He was beautiful and he was full of happiness,” Robert’s mother, Jean Ann Corrigan, told WNEM.
Angela Teague Herron, retired from the Air Force, wrote on Facebook that Robert was her “mentor.”
“When a lot of people gave up on me, you sat me in your office more than once, and held me to the fire,” Herron said. “You gave me a chance to go on when I thought everyone had given up. You were not easy, you were a leader who gave me expectations and I respected you enough to listen to you.”
“Over the years, we are introduced to so many leaders and peers. You were one that stuck out,” she added. “On Earth, you made a difference for a lot of people.”
Friends also remembered that the Corrigans loved music. Robert was known for playing the guitar and was the worship leader at First Baptist, his sister-in-law, Misty Russell, told KTRK-TV.
Shani and Robert had three sons – Forrest, Preston and Benjamin. The latter two are now active duty in the military.
The family had endured tragedy recently. Last November, the Corrigans lost Forrest, then 25, to suicide. His funeral service was held at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, the Detroit Free Press reported.
“They were trying to deal with the loss of a child, which occurred months ago. Now this? I can't imagine how their other two children are having to deal,” family friend Mike Coon, who graduated with the Corrigans, told the newspaper.
Misty Russell, Shani’s sister, said she “was just silly and funny and always happy.”
“My sister just told me a couple of weeks ago that the people in her church, they all have such good hearts and it's very heartbreaking to know not only did I lose my family but others lost their families and those were their closest friends,” she added.
Richard and Therese Rodriguez
Like other congregants who died in the attack, Richard Rodriguez was very involved in the First Baptist Church.
“If they were not at church, they’d be in the backyard working on a garden. They were amazing people,” his daughter, Regina Amador, told People about her father and stepmother. Both perished in the attack.
Amador added that Richard, 64, came from a big family with many siblings. Since the attack, the family has come together to share memories and stories, she said.
Richard was retired from the railroad system, family members told Univision. Therese was 66.
Dennis and Sara Johnson
A family member confirmed the deaths of Dennis and Sara Johnson in a Facebook post.
“With a very heavy, heavy heart, we have found out that Freddy’s aunt and uncle, Dennis and Sara Johnson, were victims of the Sutherland Springs church shooting and both perished together inside the church,” Tawnya Roberts Spence, who appears to be Dennis Johnson's sister-in-law, wrote.
“It’s still very hard to believe that such a thoughtless crime has happened like this; I hope all the family can find peace in their hearts as they go through this very sad tragedy,” she added.
Dennis was 77 years old. His wife, Sara, was 68 years old.
A day after the attack, a GoFundMe page was created for the Johnsons.
According to the crowdfunding page, the two were married for 44 years and were members of the Sutherland Baptist congregation, where the shooting occurred, for 11 years.
Dennis was a veteran of both the United States Navy Reserves and the Army National Guard.
Sara “devoted her life to caring for children, both as a loving grandmother and a volunteer in a church nursery for over 30 years,” the crowdfunding page reads.
Sara worked at Wilson County Tax Office for more than 10 years, but was most recently employed at a locally-owned home and garden shop.
The two are survived by their six children and “several beloved grandchildren,” according to the post, and were expecting four great-grandchildren.
Keith Allen Braden
When Rebecca Metcalf, an emergency medical services worker, learned that there was a shooting at the First Baptist Church, she arrived on scene to see how she could help. It was then that she learned her mother and niece had been taken to the hospital with injuries sustained from the shooting. Her father, Keith Braden, passed away.
“It’s just surreal. This is a small town. This doesn’t happen here,” Metcalf told KENS-TV in an emotional interview.
Metcalf said she began attending First Baptist of Sutherland when she was 13 and convinced her parents to attend with her. She was married in the church.
"He was a wonderful dad. He didn't have to be. He adopted me when I was real little," Metcalf said of Keith. "He was always good to me."
Keith’s brother, Bruce Braden, told the Indy Star that Keith’s wife, Debbie, was recovering in the hospital after being shot three times. Their 6-year-old granddaughter was shot in the hip and could lose the use of her leg, the newspaper reported.
"He was a wonderful dad. He didn't have to be. He adopted me when I was real little."
The Bradens are a military family, Bruce said, and Keith, 62, stayed in Texas after being stationed in San Antonio. Keith worked at a local grocery story; Debbie was a stay-at-home mom raising three children.
“He was a good father. He was strict and fair, but loving,” Bruce told the Indy Star of Keith. “He was a good provider and a good husband.”
Keith was a cancer survivor, Bruce said.
“He was hoping to have a nice number of years left to live with his family. That was taken away in an instant,” he said.
Peggy Lynn Warden
When the gunman walked in to the First Baptist Church and began his killing rampage, 56-year-old Peggy Lynn Warden gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Warden, her family said, shielded her 18-year-old grandson with her body, taking the bullets to save his life, WOAI-TV reported.
The grandmother was a volunteer teacher at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, but had taken 14 months off to take care of her ailing husband, Christopher. Christopher died in July after battling lung cancer.
“My sister spent her whole life working at the church,” her brother, Jimmy Stevens, told WOAI.
“It was always her goal to serve and teach children the word of God. There was nothing she would have rather done,” Stevens said. “And she served people basically her whole life.”
Stevens added that it is a “blessing” that his sister did not suffer.
“She died serving the Lord and helping someone who needed it. And that’s what she lived for,” Stevens said.
Warden’s grandson, Zachary Poston, was shot six times – including in the knee when he, too, put himself in harm’s way to save the life of a young girl. Poston saw a little girl begin to crawl out from underneath a pew, in the gunman’s path, and pushed her to safety with his leg. Poston was shot then, and a bullet shattered his kneecap, WOAI reported.
A GoFundMe account has been started to help the family with Poston’s medical expenses. The account said he had a titanium rod put into his leg. He was shot six times during the attack and will need additional surgeries, the fundraising page said.
Fox News' Madeline Farber and the Associated Press contributed to this report.