A five-year-old boy was found clinging to life among the pews by his aunt after his mother and sisters were shot dead in front of him in the Texas church massacre, it has emerged.
Ryland ward is undergoing emergency surgery after being shot in the arm, stomach and groin when Devin Patrick Kelley burst into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Texas and opened fire.
His mother Joann Ward, her daughters Brooke Ward, five, and Emily Garza, seven, are among the 26 people killed in the mass shooting. Their sister, nine-year-old Rihanna, had her glasses shot off her face but survived.
Five-year-old Ryland Ward (pictured) was found clinging to life among the pews by his aunt after his mother and sisters were shot dead in front of him in the Texas church massacre, it has emerged
Joann Ward (pictured) was among the 26 people gunned down when Devin Patrick Kelley burst into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Texas and opened fire
Sisters six-year-old Brooke (left) and eight-year-old Emily Garza (pictured, right, sitting on the right, next to her sister Rihanna) were killed in the shooting according to her family. Nine-year-old Rihanna (sitting next to Emily) had her glasses shot off her face but survived
Last night, devastated relatives described the scene of horror inside the church.
Ryland’s aunt, Leslie Ward, told the New York Daily News she rushed to the church from her home after hearing shots.
She said: ‘I found my nephew in the front, in pain. It was bad. There was just dead bodies everywhere. It wasn’t what I wanted to see but at the time, I wasn’t worried about it. I was worried about finding my family.’
Leslie said Ryland was in a stable condition in hospital
The youngster had been rushed to University Hospital in San Antonio where he had surgery, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The newspaper spoke to his uncle Michael Ward, who said he feared the worst for his nephew.
‘They got him all cut open, from the gunshots. I don’t think he’s going to make it,’ he said. Ryland’s counsin, McKinley, wept as she added: ‘Ryland is the only one left.’
Mr Ward said Ryland’s father, Chris, had run to the church without putting his shoes on after being told a shooting had taken place.
Mr Ward said Ryland’s father, Chris (pictured), had run to the church without putting his shoes on after being told a shooting had taken place
Devin Patrick Kelley (pictured left, and in a mugshot from a previous crime) walked into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, dressed in full combat gear, and began shooting, according to local law enforcement sources
The shooting happened at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs (pictured), where around 50 people usually attend service, according to local reports
A victim is evacuated from the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs after the massacre on Sunday afternoon
This morning, it emerged that mass shooter Kelley was a former Bible study teacher who was dishonorably discharged from the US Air Force for assaulting his wife and child.
Kelley, a married father, walked into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, dressed in black, tactical gear with a ballistics belt and an assault rifle, and began shooting, according to local law enforcement sources.
The attack only stopped when Kelley, of New Braunfels, a suburb of San Antonio, was confronted by local hero Stephen Willeford, 55, who shot him through a gap in his body armor as the gunman tried to leave the church.
Kelley was reportedly killed by that same brave neighbor following a high speed car chase.
Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr told CNN that at least 26 people were killed in the shooting, but the death toll is expected to climb. Victims include a two-year-old girl, a pregnant woman and the 14-year-old daughter of the pastor.
The Connally Memorial Medical Center said ‘multiple’ victims are being treated.