SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (AP) – A mother’s pride had lit up Crystal Holcombe’s Facebook page. Daughters Emily and Megan had finished third and first in their respective categories in a 4-H bakeoff and displayed their handiwork in posted photos.
But on Sunday afternoon, the page went grim.
“Keep the Holcombe family in your prayers,” a friend posted.
Crystal Holcombe, who was eight months pregnant, was among the 26 people killed by a lone gunman wielding an assault rifle, most inside the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, according to her cousin, Nick Uhlig.
Uhlig told The Associated Press that Holcombe’s in-laws were killed, and he told the Houston Chronicle that three of Holcombe’s children also died.
“She doesn’t even drink, smoke or nothing,” he told the newspaper. “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.”
The father-in-law, Bryan Holcombe, had done prison ministry, Uhlig said. “He would go up to the prison with a ukulele to sing.”
The massacred churchgoers ranged in age from 5 to 72, state police said. About 20 others were wounded.
One local man, 68-year-old Earl Good, told the San Antonio Express-News that a good friend had lost eight relatives in the shooting.
It’s not clear whether the Holcombes were that family.
Another victim was 14-year-old Annabelle Pomeroy, daughter of the church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy. Both he and his wife were out of town, in different states, on Sunday.
“Heaven truly gained a real beautiful angel this morning along with many more,” the girl’s uncle, Scott Pomeroy, lamented on his Facebook page, posting a picture of the smiling girl poolside in a bathing suit. All those robbed of life in Sunday’s bloodbath, he wrote, “have taken their last breath of dirty air and took their first breath of heavenly air with new bodies with no pain and suffering.”
Another of those killed was the 13-year-old goddaughter of Amanda Mosel, she told the Express-News.
Hank Summers, a local who had moved to San Antonio, told the AP via text message that his uncle, David Colbath, survived five gunshots that required extensive surgery and skin grafts to save an arm.
Sutherland Springs is a tiny town where everyone knows each other, said L.G. Moore, who runs the Holiday RV Park, which is ¼ mile from the church.
Everyone in town was apt to know someone who was killed, he ventured.
“They say the population is 400 and that’s if you count every dog, cat and armadillo. It’s more like 200 people,” the 75-year-old Moore said by phone.
Bajak reported from Houston.