On November 5, 2017, the nation and residents of Sutherland Springs, Texas were, again, mortified in what officials are calling the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history. The gunman, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, stormed the First Baptist Church during one of Pastor Frank Pomeroy’s sermons with a sickeningly specific purpose and was responsible for twenty-six deaths, including that of an unborn child. After sustaining several gunshot wounds, one of which was a self-inflicted head wound, Kelley’s corpse and getaway vehicle were recovered in a ditch not far from the scene of the slaughter.
On that fateful Sunday morning, Pastor Pomeroy was preaching his weekly sermon as Kelley rushed the enclosed space, mercilessly unloading the 15 magazines of his AR-556, somehow purchased without a license and with a record of domestic assault and animal abuse. “My dad… heard shots and saw people running,” David Flores told CNN, “People covered in blood and screaming. It was pandemonium everywhere.” To the surprise and anger of many, on top of the insufferable fact that Kelley was able to buy such a powerful weapon, if any, several other firearms were found in his wrecked vehicle.
According to investigators, Kelley’s disturbing home life and domestic disputes demonstrates a possible motive – not an excuse – for the attack. Kelley was having issues with his mother-in-law, to whom he sent threatening text messages the morning of the shooting. While she and her mother, Lula White, regularly volunteered at the church, his mother-in-law was not at the church that morning, but Mrs. White was. Kelley’s first wife, Tessa Brennaman, told the ABC news team about Kelley’s abuse. “He would choke me, punch me, kick me… I would [have] to protect my organs… like I was less of a person…” she said. She told authorities that at one point, Kelley pointed a gun at her head and asked if she wanted to die. He said he would kill her entire family if she ever spoke out about the abuse. His mental state was clearly turbulent, and authorities believe it would not have taken much to “send him off the rails.”
As Kelley left the church, an armed civilian by the name of Stephen Willeford shot him two times: once in the thigh, once in the torso. Kelley drove off in his vehicle, calling his father saying he was not going to make it, and shooting himself. Investigators believe that was the cause of death, but are still considering Mr. Willeford’s contribution as such.
One week after the shooting, the church was converted into a memorial with almost the entire interior coated white. Twenty-six white chairs with a red cross and a single rose stand in the exact place each of the victims sat upon their death. Engraved in gold on each seat is the name of the victim, and outside rests 26 crosses decorated with flowers, ribbons, flags and hearts. The sets of shrines are visited daily by the families and friends of Annabelle Pomeroy, 14, Keith Braden, Robert and Shani Corrigan, the entire Holcombe family, Haley Krueger, 16, Tara McNulty, Richard and Therese Rodriguez, the Ward family, Peggy Lynn Warden, Lula Woicinski White, Dennis Johnson Sr. and Sara Johnson, Robert and Karen Marshall, and all other victims whose names have not yet been released per request or pending allocation of the families.
After yet another brutal killing spree, many ask when the numbers will be high enough. Exactly how much blood and tears must be shed before something changes? Until the time comes, this is simply another day, another massacre.


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