What We Know About The Victims Of The South Texas Church Shooting | KERA News

What We Know About The Victims Of The South Texas Church Shooting

Nov 8, 2017

On Sunday, a gunman began firing inside First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, killing young children, teenagers, parents, grandparents and families. 

Twenty-six people, including an unborn child, died and 20 others were wounded. On any given Sunday, about 50 people attend services at the church. 

Most of those killed were inside the church. Some of the victims were from the same families as they sat together. Eight of the victims were children or teenagers.

In small towns, everyone knows each other. So in Sutherland Springs, practically everyone has a personal connection to the news. 

It's considered the largest mass shooting in Texas history. 

Stories from Sutherland Springs

An aspiring nurse

Haley Krueger, 16, wanted to be an infant ICU nurse. She loved babies because, as her aunt Pauline Marrison told Houston Public Media, Haley was shy and felt a connection with children.

She loved her English class, mostly because of her teacher, Marrison said. Haley was "a hip-hop girl" but also loved country music. She wore Converse shoes, which she loved. Haley had not yet begun to drive.

Haley Krueger died in the Nov. 5 church shooting in Sutherland Springs. She was 16.
Credit GoFundMe campaign

Haley, her mother Charlene Uhl and her three brothers all moved near Sutherland Springs to find a calmer, less stressful life. Haley's brother is autistic, and it was easier for him in the setting of a small town. The family stuck close together; Haley's father died after battling cancer in 2015.

The family tried a couple different churches before settling on First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. Even though she was shy, Haley fit in there. Pastor Frank Pomeroy would preach in a way that was "very to-date," which resonated with Haley, Marrison said.

A young mother and her kids

The Ward family lost three of its members Sunday, but one is still holding on. 

Joann Ward, 30, and her two daughters, Brooke, 5, and Emily, 7, died. Ward's 5-year-old son Ryland was seriously wounded.

Grandmother Sandy Ward told Texas Public Radio that Ryland was in surgery for more than eight hours Monday and could be in the hospital for six months or longer.

He'll be without his sister, Brooke. Ward described her as "a sweet girl."

"When they sing at church, she would get out in the aisle and do her ballet. Because she wanted to be a ballerina. ... She was pretty good for a 5-year-old with no training."

Emily, who died at the hospital, was helpful and sweet, and Ward said she "never saw that kid mad."

Their mother "threw her body over the little ones," Ward said.

For Jim Crosley, a family friend, it seems almost unreal.

“I’m still trying to get it through my head why somebody would come down here and destroy somebody’s lives like they did,” he told Texas Public Radio. He said Joann was too young for this to happen. 

Lorenzo Flores knew her for more than 27 years.

"Joann lived in my neighborhood when she was little a little girl. She went to school with my boys, so I saw her grow up," he said. "She was like a daughter to me, you know. She'd go to our house like she was our own.”

Flores and his girlfriend, Terri, run a taco shop inside a convenience store near First Baptist, called Teresa’s Kitchen. Flores said he saw Joann all the time. He said losing her is like losing a daughter.

“It’s like you took a piece of my life because I’ve known her so long. She was a part of my family,” he said.

The pastor’s daughter

Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his wife, Sherri, were both out of town when the attack took place. Their daughter, Annabelle Pomeroy, was among the victims.

"We lost our 14-year-old daughter today and many friends," Sherri Pomeroy wrote in a text message to The Associated Press. "Neither of us has made it back into town yet to personally see the devastation. I am at the charlotte airport trying to get home as soon as i can."

Pastor Dimas Salabarrios on Nov. 6 prays with Sherri and Frank Pomeroy, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. Their 14-year-old daughter was killed.
Credit Lynda Gonzalez / KUT News

Speaking at a news conference Monday, Sherri Pomeroy said it gives her "a sliver of encouragement" that their daughter was surrounded by her church family when she died in the shooting. 

"Our church was not comprised of members or parishioners. We were a very close family."

She added: "Now, most of our church family is gone."

Pomeroy said her daughter would have struggled to deal with losing so many people.  

Several generations of one family

The Holcombes suffered deaths across three generations. Eight members of the extended family died, including one who was eight months pregnant. 

Bryan Holcombe, associate pastor for the church, his wife, Karla, and their 36-year-old son, Marc Daniel, were killed, The Washington Post reported. Marc Daniel Holcombe's infant daughter, Noah, also died.

Bryan and Karla’s other son, John Holcombe, survived, but his pregnant wife, Crystal, did not.

"Now, most of our church family is gone."

Crystal Holcombe had five children. Three of them — Emily, Megan and Greg — died. The two others survived, the Post reported.

Church member Nick Uhlig, 34, who wasn't at Sunday's service, talked with the Houston Chronicle about his cousin, Crystal.

"She doesn't even drink, smoke or nothing," he said. "She just takes care of kids; she raises goats and makes homemade cheese. That kind of thing, you know? They don't go out dancing or anything like that. They're real old-fashioned, down-to-earth.”

Uhlig said Bryan Holcombe did prison ministry, adding that he would go to the prison with a ukulele and sing for the inmates, The Associated Press reported.  

Locals gather at a prayer vigil on Nov. 8 in Floresville attended by Vice President Mike Pence and Gov. Greg Abbott.
Credit Lynda Gonzalez / KUT News

First-time visitors

Robert Marshall told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that his son Scott and daughter-in-law Karen were first-time visitors to First Baptist Church.

Karen had recently returned to Texas after finishing an assignment at Maryland's Andrews Air Force Base. Scott was retired from the Air Force and had been working as a civilian contractor and mechanic at Lackland Air Force Base, about 35 miles west of La Vernia.

The couple, both 56, met while they were in the service together more than 30 years ago.

Scott Marshall's sister Holly Hannum told WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh he was a "great guy," who would have "given you the shirt off his back and would've helped you do anything." 

A grandmother who saved her grandson

Peggy Lynn Warden, 56, stepped in front of her 18-year-old grandson, shielding him from bullets and saving his life, according to family. 

She had just returned to work at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church as a volunteer teacher, after spending 14 months caring for her husband, Christopher, who died after a battle with lung cancer in July. They were married for 39 years.

"I'm still trying to get it through my head why somebody would come down here and destroy somebody's lives like they did."

"My sister spent her whole life working at the church," Warden's brother, Jimmy Stevens, told News 4 San Antonio. "She died serving the Lord and helping someone who needed it, and that's what she lived for. She will be missed every day of my life forever."

Her grandson, Zachary Logan Poston, was shot six times in the arms and legs. He is currently in recovery, according to a GoFundMe campaign created by Korri Scheel Stevens, Poston’s great aunt and Warden's sister-in-law.

“She is our hero,” Stevens wrote. “She saved Zachary's life.”

High school sweethearts

Robert Corrigan and his wife, Shani, both 51, graduated together from Harrison High School in 1985 in Farmington Hills, Michigan, got married and then moved to Texas several years ago.

According to Facebook, the couple lived in Floresville, and had three sons — two of them on active duty in the military. 

This past year had been particularly difficult for the Corrigans. Last November, their 25-year-old son, Forrest, committed suicide, and they held his memorial at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Friends on social media said Robert loved music and held the two-mile track record at his high school for about 25 years.

"Bob loved playing guitar for the church music ministry more than anything else — and was likely doing that when him and Shani were killed," David Roll wrote on Facebook. "I feel blessed to have known them both."

Robert's mother, Jean Anne Corrigan, told WDIV in Detroit her son was "kind to everybody and made people laugh." She said Shani was a wonderful person and mother. 

"I know my son and my daughter-in-law are in the arms of Jesus," she said.

Robert served 29 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring in 2015 as a chief master sergeant. 

Community members and visitors gather in Ball Park in Sutherland Springs on Nov. 6 to hold a memorial service for the victims.
Credit Lynda Gonzalez / KUT News

Recent retirees

Ricardo, 64, and Therese Rodriguez, 66, were married for about a decade and recently retired, The Dallas Morning News reported. They lived in nearby La Vernia. Ricardo had an adult daughter from a previous relationship, and Therese had two adult sons.

Ricardo's sister Evangelina Santos told Univision on Monday that she was hoping her brother and his wife "were only hurt, not dead," but authorities confirmed Sunday night that they had died. She said her brother, who was a railroad worker, was the often the center of attention.

A 'good' man

Keith Braden, 62, was a "good father, good grandfather, good brother," his brother, Bruce, told The Dallas Morning News.

Braden was also an Army and National Guard veteran and cancer survivor. He worked in the dairy section of an H-E-B at the time of his death.

His wife, Deborah, and granddaughter were also shot and hospitalized. Deborah is expected to recover more quickly than their granddaughter. 

Braden and his wife had three children. Their son just got married in September, his brother said.

A helping hand

Lula Woicinski White, 71, was a devout member of the Sutherland Springs church, where she frequently volunteered. Her listed occupation on her Facebook page says "Do what's needed" at First Baptist Church.

“I have no doubt where she is right now. She is in Heaven laying her crowns and jewels at the feet of Jesus and celebrating,” Amy Johnson Backus wrote of her aunt Lula on Facebook.

She was also the grandmother of the gunman's wife. 

Dennis and Sara Johnson were killed in the Nov. 5 church shooting at Sutherland Springs. They were married for going on 45 years.
Credit GoFundMe campaign

Parents of six 

Dennis Johnson, 77, and his wife Sara, 68, had six children and were grandparents. They were married for 44 years and members of First Baptist for over a decade, according to a GoFundMe campaign created by Marissa Henderson. 

Dennis served in the Navy and the National Guard. Sara took care of her children, worked in the Wilson County Tax Office and more recently at Pfeil's Home and Garden in Floresville.

Dennis was the oldest victim of the church shooting.  

A local bartender

Tara McNulty, 33, was a single mother and bartender at the Aumont Saloon in nearby Seguin. Her two children and visiting cousin were also wounded in the attack, The Associated Press reported.

After seeing the news of the shooting on television Sunday night, Tara's best friend Amber Maricle texted her saying that "the shooting was so close to you" with a crying-face emoji, The Washington Post reported. Tara never responded. 

“She was like me; she was like my soul sister,” Maricle said. “We could literally finish each other's sentences. It was an immediate bond.”

Tara's boss Kevin Koenen said on Facebook that her death is "a huge loss" and that she was a kind-hearted person and great employee. The bar is hosting a benefit for McNulty's family on Sunday.

The full list of victims

The Texas Department of Public Safety has released the names of those who were killed in Sutherland Springs. 

  • Robert Scott Marshall, 56
  • Karen Sue Marshall, 56
  • Keith Allen Braden, 62
  • Tara E. McNulty, 33
  • Annabelle Renae Pomeroy, 14
  • Peggy Lynn Warden, 56
  • Dennis Neil Johnson, Sr., 77
  • Sara Johns Johnson, 68
  • Lula Woicinski White, 71
  • Joann Lookingbill Ward, 30
  • Brooke Bryanne Ward, 5
  • Robert Michael Corrigan, 51
  • ​Shani Louise Corrigan, 51
  • Therese Sagan Rodriguez, 66
  • Ricardo Cardona Rodriguez, 64
  • Haley Krueger, 16
  • Emily Garza, 7, died at the hospital.
  • Emily Rose Hill, 11
  • Gregory Lynn Hill, 13
  • Megan Gail Hill, 9
  • Marc Daniel Holcombe, 36
  • Noah Holcombe, 1
  • Karla Plain Holcombe, 58
  • John Bryan Holcombe, 60
  • Crystal Marie Holcombe, 36, was pregnant with Carlin Brite Holcombe.

The Associated Press, Stephanie Kuo of KERA, Davis Land of Houston Public Media and Joey Palacios and Ryan Poppe of Texas Public Radio contributed to this report.