One Week After Texas Church Shooting, a Sunday Service …
“It’s senseless,” Ms. Mora said, sobbing after walking through the church. “I could picture their faces sitting there.”
Demetrius Cullors, 42, a truck driver from San Antonio, was with his 11-year-old daughter, Steffanie. “I needed to come to pay my respects,” he said. “To go in there — wow. It was somber. It’s hard to put into words.”
The week since the shooting has been filled with funerals, tearful gatherings and shared grief in this unincorporated community of a few hundred people southeast of San Antonio.
On Sunday morning, congregants sang “Amazing Grace” and said they found strength in Mr. Pomeroy’s message: Darkness will not win.
“This past weekend, our country was attacked, our state was attacked, our church was attacked,” Mr. Pomeroy said. “Glory to God, our people were attacked.”
Referring to Veterans Day on Saturday, he added, “We celebrate and remember the veterans who fought and died so that we can have freedom in this country.”
“But last weekend men, women and children also fought for the freedom we have here this morning,” Mr. Pomeroy continued. “We have the freedom to choose, and rather than choose darkness, as this one young man did that day, I say we choose light.”
As the service was ending, mourners lined up to hug him while the First Baptist Church choir from Seguin, Tex., sang, “I Surrender, Lord.”
After the service, John Barnhill, 46, a U.P.S. worker who has been delivering packages to residents of Sutherland Springs for seven years, said he was glad to see so many people gathered despite the tragedy that had kept the church doors closed.
“In Texas, we know the Devil can’t beat us,” he said. “You may kick us out. But if we have to do it in the middle of a baseball field, it don’t matter. We’re going to have church.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety said the victims included 10 women, eight children, seven men and the fetus of one victim, Crystal M. Holcombe. (At the memorial, the rose for the unborn fetus was pink.) Eight of the dead belonged to a single family.
John Cornyn, a United States senator from Texas, spoke at the service and later praised parishioners for their resilience. “It’s clear they are people of deep faith, and that that’s what sustains them and gives them hope, even during dark times like this,” he said.
Until last week, the church hosted Sunday services where musicians often performed and Mr. Pomeroy, known for his handlebar mustache and the motorcycle he would sometimes park inside, would deliver a sermon.
The church’s out-of-date marquee was still inviting people to an October Fall Fest on the morning that Mr. Kelley stormed in wearing a black mask and tactical gear.
After he opened fire on those inside, Mr. Kelley was shot and wounded by an armed bystander. He fled in a vehicle and was found dead, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot, after his car crashed.
Asked whether the weapons used by Mr. Kelley — which included a semiautomatic rifle — should be owned by civilians, Mr. Cornyn referred to the bystander who shot at Mr. Kelley with a semiautomatic rifle of his own: “Well, thank goodness Stephen Willeford had an AR-15, and he prevented other people from being killed that day.”
In his emotional sermon on Sunday morning, Mr. Pomeroy urged congregants not to despair.
“Just because we are wounded doesn’t mean to turn back,” he said. “We should fight back. I say, do not allow the lives that have been lost or changed to be in vain.”
The people under the tent applauded and said, “Amen.”
Ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis holds up despite wardrob…
French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis held up as best she could. If the world sawRead More
Mozambique rubbish dump collapse ‘kills at least 17’ pe…
Image copyright EPA Image caption Authorities have warned that a number of residents remain unaccountedRead More