Thursday marked three years since the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history.
On November 5, 2017, 26 people were killed at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. In addition, 20 people were injured. The gunman was chased down by a Good Samaritan and eventually killed.
In a Facebook post, the First Baptist Church posted this on Wednesday.
“As per our church bylaws, what we envision to be a tradition for generations to come, we will be ringing the church bell 26 times tomorrow, November 5, 2020 at 11:25 a.m. There will be no speakers or service, just a somber, prayerful time of remembrance that #evildidnotwin.”
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A balloon release was held Thursday for Haley Krueger. Krueger was one of the 26 victims killed that 2017 day. At the time, Krueger was 16-years-old.
“Knowing that Haley is touching lives, when she is no longer here, that helps every day,” said Charlene Uhl, Krueger’s mother. “It’s day by day, sometimes second by second. It’s just really hard. I’m trying to just honor her and move forward the best that I can.”
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Among the 20 people injured was David Colbath. Colbath had been sitting in the back of the church when the gunman opened fire. Colbath survived after getting shot eight times.
“We lost not just loved ones, but personal friends,” said Colbath. “Those 26 may not be here physically, but they are spiritually here.”
On Thursday, we interviewed Rusty Duncan. In 2017, Duncan had been the assistant chief at the Stockdale Fire Department and one of the first people to respond to the church shooting.
“There’s a lot of things I still think about, from entering the church, to people I saw lying there,” said Duncan. “The faces are still pretty fresh.”
Among those rescued, a then 5-year-old boy named Ryland. Duncan and Ryland, now share a unique bond.
“I just pulled him from the church, and gave him whatever first aid I could,” said Duncan. “[Now], he’s still very, very active. Nothing gets in his way.”
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Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted Thursday he offered his condolences.
“Three years ago, 26 innocent lives were taken in a tragic shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs,” Abbott said. “Today, we honor their memory & pray for the continued healing of the Sutherland Springs community. Our hearts will forever remain with the victims & their families.”
The message shared by the Sutherland Springs community has been and continues to be, “Evil didn’t win”.
“Keep keeping on,” said Colbath. “Keep loving our brothers and our sisters, and keep building up God’s family.”