US Mother killed shielding her four children in Texas church shooting

03:35  07 november  2017
03:35  07 november  2017 Source:   Reuters

Newspaper: Texas sheriff says there were multiple deaths in church shooting and shooter has been taken down

  Newspaper: Texas sheriff says there were multiple deaths in church shooting and shooter has been taken down SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas — Local media report that several people have been shot at a church in South Texas.Newspaper: Sheriff says there were multiple deaths in Texas church shooting and shooter has been taken down

(Reuters) - A mother who used herself as a shield to try to protect her four young children when a gunman opened fire inside a Texas church on Sunday lost her life but Twenty-six churchgoers were killed in the shooting . Joann Ward and daughter Brooke, 5, were among those who died at the scene.

A mother who used herself as a shield to try to protect her 4 young children when a gunman opened fire inside a Texas church on Sunday lost her life but helped save her 5-year-old son and one of her daughters.

Rebecca Thompson prays after placing flowers near the site of the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland, Texas, U.S., November 6, 2017. © REUTERS/Rick Wilking Rebecca Thompson prays after placing flowers near the site of the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland, Texas, U.S., November 6, 2017. A mother who used herself as a shield to try to protect her four young children when a gunman opened fire inside a Texas church on Sunday lost her life but helped save her 5-year-old son and one of her daughters.

Joann Ward pushed her 9-year-old daughter Rihanna to the floor when a gunman sprayed shots inside First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, then embraced her three other children, according to an account of her response shared by a family friend on Facebook.

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An 18-month-old child , a pregnant mother of five and three generations of a single family were among the victims of a gunman who opened fire on a church in a rural Texas community on Sunday, killing at least 26 people. Up to 14 of those killed were children , Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt has said.

“I didn’t get shot because I was hiding, and Momma covered Emily, Ryland & Brooke," Rihanna recounted, according to the post by the family friend, Vonda Greek Smith.

Twenty-six churchgoers were killed in the shooting. Joann Ward and daughter Brooke, 5, were among those who died at the scene. Ward's daughter Emily, 7, died at the hospital.

Son Ryland, 5, was shot five times and was in critical condition after surgery, according to a GoFundMe page set up by a relative, Heather Bradley, to raise money for the family.

"Ryland survived multiple gunshot wounds, went thru extensive surgeries and will have a very long road back to full recovery," Smith said on Facebook.

Joann Ward, a victim of the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. is seen in this photo obtained November 6, 2017. © Social media/Handout via REUTERS. Joann Ward, a victim of the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. is seen in this photo obtained November 6, 2017. At the time of the shooting, Ward's husband Chris was at home sleeping after a night shift, the Dallas Morning News reported.

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Among the dead are the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter, a mother of four children and a 16-year-old As the attack unfolded, Joann was “ shielding [ her ] babies from the shooter ,” her friend Vonda Greek Smith 5 Pastor's 14-Year-Old Daughter Reportedly Killed in Texas Church Mass Shooting : She

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The children's aunt, Leslie Ward, was at her nearby home when she heard gunshots and awakened her husband, Michael Ward, the newspaper reported. He went to the church and carried out his nephew Ryland.

He told his brother of the tragedy. "I'm not lying to you, Chris, they're all shot," Michael Ward recalled saying, according to the newspaper.

The Wards were longtime members of First Baptist, and the congregation felt "like a family," grandmother Sandy Ward told MSNBC.

A photo of Brooke taken in the church a week ago, according to the GoFundMe page, showed her smiling, her blonde pigtails braided, and sitting in a ruffled skirt on the pastor's motorcycle.

Another showed the child beaming as she held up her Kindergarten Perfect Attendance Award and Citizenship Certificate, both dated last month.

"Joann was the most wonderful mom any child could wish for and her children were always laughing and loving life," Ward's uncle John Alexander wrote on the GoFundMe page.

(Reporting by Angela Moon; Additional reporting and writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Colleen Jenkins)

Community to honor church attack victims on Veterans Day .
Veterans Day has special meaning this year in the small South Texas community where a church massacre occurred last weekend. Nearly half of the victims had ties to the U.S. Air Force. The church attack victims with military backgrounds will receive a full military salute Saturday on the grounds of the community hall in Sutherland Springs as Veterans Day is observed, said Alice Garcia, president of the Sutherland Springs Community Association.Her husband and the association's vice president, Oscar Garcia, said they want to "honor those that have fallen, people killed in a moment after putting in years of military service.

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