Church targeted by killer may be torn down
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.
Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church Pastor Frank Pomeroy visits with family and victims before a vigil Wednesday in Floresville, Texas.