His victims ranged in age from just 18 months old to 77 years, law enforcement said Monday. Police indicated that as many as 14 of them may have been children. Some families lost multiple members, as many people were attending service with their parents, spouses, children, and grandchildren. Gov. Greg Abbott called it the largest mass shooting in Texas state history.
Details about the shooting are still emerging, but as of Monday, authorities had begun to identify some of the victims.
Here’s what we know about them so far.
Joann Ward, Brooke Ward, and Emily Garza
Joann Ward was attending church on Sunday when she and two of her daughters, Brooke Ward, 5, and Emily Garza, 7, were killed. Their deaths were confirmed to The Dallas Morning News late Sunday.
Sandy Ward, Brooke and Emily’s grandmother, told MSNBC Emily was “a sweet little girl.” At the time, she said she was still waiting for news about Brooke.
“She was just such a good little girl. She was so helpful. She would help. Anything you asked her to do, she was always happy and cheerful,” the grandmother said on MSNBC.
Joann had four children, all of whom were with her at church. One of her daughters survived, and her son, Ryland Ward, 5, was also shot, but survived and was rushed to surgery. As of Monday morning, Ryland was in stable condition, according to his aunt who spoke to The Dallas Morning News.
“Joann was such a wonderful mother whose whole life was her children and family,” Joann’s uncle, John Alexander, wrote on Facebook Monday morning. “My heart is broken.”
Alexander also set up a GoFundMe to cover funeral and medical costs for the family. “Joann was the most wonderful mom any child could wish for and her children were always laughing and loving life,” he wrote on the fundraising page.
Annabelle Pomeroy, 14, was the daughter of the church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy. Her parents were out of town, her mother Sherri Pomeroy told the AP. They were driving back to Sutherland Springs from Oklahoma, according to ABC.
“Heaven truly gained a real beautiful angel this morning,” Annabelle’s uncle Scott Pomeroy wrote on Facebook Sunday.
Her father told ABC that his daughter was one “very beautiful, special child.” She was his youngest daughter.
Karla, Bryan, Chrystal, Emily, Meghan, Greg, Marc Daniel, and Noah Holcombe
Sunday’s shooting took members of three generations from one local family. Eight members of the Holcombe family, one of whom was also eight months pregnant, were killed when Kelley opened fire on the rows of pews inside the First Baptist Church.
Karla and Bryan Holcombe had been married for about 40 years and were attending church with their children and grandchildren when they were killed.
“They were really loving people,” Jenna Brown, a friend of the Holcombes, told The Daily Beast. “They really were loving people. They were about as close to a true life of Christ as you could get.”
Bryan was preaching when he was shot and killed. Karla taught Sunday school at the church. They were high school sweethearts.
Joe Holcombe, Bryan’s father, told The Washington Post that his son was born to be a preacher, and that Bryan’s first word was “God” and his first sentence was “See the light.” A family member also told the Associated Press that Bryan would often play the ukulele and sing for prison inmates.
Their daughter-in-law, Chrystal Holcombe — a mother of five who was eight months pregnant — was also killed. Three of her five children, Emily, Megan, and Greg, were also killed in the shooting. Chrystal’s husband, John (who was Bryan and Karla’s son), survived the shooting.
Chrystal was homeschooling her five children and had recently posted on Facebook about her children’s success in a 4H show and food challenge.
“They’ve worked hard and learned so much,” she wrote. “I’m very proud of them!”
Days prior, she had also posted pictures of a Halloween party at First Baptist Church.
Chrystal’s brother-in-law and Bryan and Karla’s son, Marc Daniel Holcombe, 36, was also killed, as was his daughter Noah Holcombe, who was only a year old.
“It’s of course going to be difficult,” Joe Holcombe, Bryan’s father, told The Washington Post. But, he added, “We are Christians. We have read the end of the book. We know the ending, and it’s good.”
This story will be updated as more details are released.