Mourners gathered for an emotional candlelit vigil for the victims of the Texas church shooting on Sunday evening.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joined more than a hundred local residents in the vigil outside the First Baptist Church, of Sutherland Springs, where just a few hours earlier Devin Patrick Kelley had opened fire killing 26 and injuring dozens more.
The massacre – the worst mass shooting in Texan history – claimed the lives of a mother-of-four and her two young daughters, a 14-year-old pastor’s daughter and Sunday’s stand-in preacher, along with his wife, daughter and pregnant daughter-in-law, and has shaken the small town to its core.
Mike Gonzales, who does not regularly attend the church, was among the many who joined the tearful vigil.
Mourners gathered for an emotional candlelit vigil for the victims of the Texas church shooting on Sunday evening. Pictured: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott consoles Ann Montgomery, a Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church at the vigil
Mona Rodriguez holds her 12-year-old son, J Anthony Hernandez, who broke down in tears at the event on Sunday evening
Local residents and family members of the victims gathered for a candlelight vigil outside the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs – where just a few hours earlier, 26 people were gunned down and killed
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott participates in a candlelight vigil for the victims of a fatal shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Sunday
‘The people of this church are wonderful people,’ he said. ‘We’re coming together to pray for them and show the world that now, in the midst of darkness, there is light.’
Dozens of people at the event lit candles, hugged and joined in prayer for the victims and those wounded in the worst mass shooting in Texan history.
For some, like 12-year-old J Anthony Hernandez, it was too much to bear. He was pictured being comforted by his mom Mona Rodriguez as he shed a tear for the lives lost in the massacre.
Gov. Abbott was also seen consoling some of the victims’ family and friends, including Ann Montgomery, a Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church, who broke down at the event.
The governor offered his condolences earlier today in the wake of the massacre.
‘While the details of this horrific act are still under investigation, Cecilia and I want to send our sincerest thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected by this evil act,’ he wrote and tweeted.
‘I want to thank law enforcement for their response and ask that all Texans pray for the Sutherland Springs community during this time of mourning and loss.’
‘There are 26 lives that have been lost. We don’t know if that number will rise or not, all we know is that’s too many, and this will be a long, suffering mourning for those in pain,’ he added in a press conference.
The shooting happened at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs (pictured), where around 50 people usually attend service, according to local reports
More than 20 people have been killed inside a Texas church – including a two-year-old child – after a gunman dressed in full combat gear opened fire during the morning service before cops shot him dead. First Baptist Church Pastor Frank Pomeroy’s (right with his wife Sherri) 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle (left), is among the dead
Sunday school teacher Karla Holcolmbe and her husband Bryan also died in the rampage, their family confirmed. A local resident says their daughter, and pregnant daughter-in-law were also killed
Mother-of-four, Joann Ward, is said to have died in the wake of the shooting, according to her family
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
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 vigil was held after Kelley, a married father, walked into the First Baptist Church, dressed in black, tactical gear with a ballistics belt and an assault rifle, and began shooting.
The attack only stopped when Kelley was confronted by a heroic local man who shot at the mass shooter as he left the church. Kelley was reportedly killed by that same brave neighbor following a high speed car chase.
At least 26 were killed in the shooting but that death toll is expected to rise even higher.
The first victim to be identified was Annabelle Pomeroy, whose father – First Baptist Church Pastor Frank Pomeroy – had been out of town during the attack. The grieving dad told ABC he’s lost ‘one beautiful girl, and a ‘special child.’
Bryan Holcombe had been standing in for Frank Pomeroy when Kelley opened fire. Witnesses say he was the first victim to be struck by the shooter’s gunfire. He was killed, alongside his wife of 25 years, Sunday school teacher Karla Holcombe, as well as their daughter and pregnant daughter-in-law, local residents reported.
‘My father was a good man and he loved to preach. He had a good heart. They knew where they were going. There’s peace in that,’ their son Scott Holcombe told the Herald-Tribune.
Lisa Cavazos spoke with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a candlelight vigil held for the victims of a fatal shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas
An upset local teen is comforted by the Texas governor during the emotionally charged event
Mourners attend a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas
Mourners hold candles and pray for the victims and their loved ones in the wake of the tragedy
Lexa Roberts and Cody Shaw of Spring, Texas embrace after a vigil for victims of a mass shooting
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott consoles Ted and Ann Montgomery, members of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, at a vigil for the victims
Mourners raise their hands in prayer at the candlelight vigil at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott embraces a woman during a candlelight vigil held for the victims of a fatal shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs
Mother-of-four Joann Ward and three of her children were also shot. Family have since told the Dallas News that Joann and two of her daughters, six-year-old Brooke and eight-year-old Emily have died.
Ward’s six-year-old stepson Rylan, who was shot four times, is still in hospital after undergoing emergency surgery. The mom’s eldest daughter Rihanna, 9, had the glasses shot off her face but escaped injury by hiding under a pew as shots rang out.
The Connally Memorial Medical Center said ‘multiple’ victims are being treated.
President Donald Trump is among the many to pass on his condolences to the Sutherland Springs community from Japan, saying: ‘Victims and their families were in their sacred place of worship. We cannot put into words the pain and grief we all feel.
‘In dark times such as these, Americans do we what do best and we pull together. We lock hands and we joins arms. Through the tears and through the sadness we stand strong.’
The president pledged his full support to the state of Texas and the local communities affected by Sunday’s attack.
Carrie Matula (left) embraces a woman after a fatal shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday. Matula said she heard the shooting from the gas station where she works a block away
People gather near First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas
Community leader Mike Gonzales leads a candlelight vigil for the victims of a fatal shooting in Texas