Church tar­geted by killer may be torn down

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION - John Ba­con USA TO­DAY Con­tribut­ing: Eleanor Dear­man, Cor­pus Christi Caller- Times

The pas­tor of the Texas church where a gun­man killed more than two dozen peo­ple said he plans on de­mol­ish­ing the build­ing, a spokesman for the South­ern Bap­tist Con­ven­tion said Thurs­day.

Pas­tor Frank Pomeroy told con­ven­tion lead­ers that con­duct­ing ser­vices at the First Bap­tist Church of Suther­land Springs would be too pain­ful af­ter Sun­day’s mas­sacre, con­ven­tion spokesman Roger Old­ham told USA TO­DAY. “The pas­tor ex­pressed his de­sire that per­haps the best way for­ward is to have the church de­mol­ished and re­placed with a prayer gar­den,” Old­ham said, but parish­ioners haven’t “had a chance to fully deal with the grief and then come to­gether to make a de­ci­sion.”

View­ings for some of the vic­tims will be held this week­end. The con­ven­tion, through the North Amer­i­can Mis­sion Board, of­fered to cover fu­neral ex­penses for all the vic­tims.

Old­ham said First Bap­tist had about 100 mem­bers be­fore Devin Kel­ley’s ram­page that killed 25 peo­ple, in­clud­ing a preg­nant woman whose un­born child also died, and wounded 20. Pomeroy hopes to build an­other church on the prop­erty, Old­ham said.

The pres­i­dent of the con­ven­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, Frank Page, was in Suther­land Springs for two days this week, min­is­ter­ing to Pomeroy and his parish­ioners.

The state of­fered fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance, and Gov. Greg Ab­bott pro­nounced Sun­day a day of prayer. Pomeroy, whose 14- year- old daugh­ter, Annabelle, was killed, plans to hold a ser­vice Sun­day at a com­mu­nity cen­ter.

Re­pair­ing the bul­let- rid­dled church had lit­tle sup­port among his sur­viv­ing parish­ioners, Pomeroy told

The Wall Street Jour­nal. “There’s too many that do not want to go back in there.”

Fam­ily mem­bers, friends and neigh­bors con­tin­ued to mourn their loved ones. Cory Fuller, 42, re­mem­bered her friend Joann Ward as some­one would do any­thing to help some­one in need.

“She give up her time, what lit­tle money they had, any­thing in ser­vice of any­body … who needed help,” Fuller said. “It didn’t mat­ter.”

Michael Kel­ley, the fa­ther of the gun­man, said his fam­ily also is griev­ing. He told ABC News he doesn’t want to dis­cuss his son or the shoot­ing. “I don’t want our lives, our grand­chil­dren’s lives de­stroyed by this me­dia cir­cus,” he said.

ERIC GAY/ AP

Suther­land Springs First Bap­tist Church Pas­tor Frank Pomeroy vis­its with fam­ily and vic­tims be­fore a vigil Wed­nes­day in Floresville, Texas.

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