In what turned out to be quite the emotional scene, police, first responders and citizens alike all crowded the streets to give a warm welcome home to 5-year-old Ryland Ward from the hospital. He was one of the few survivors of the awful Texas church shooting in Sutherland Springs, in which the boy lost his stepmother and two sisters.
Police lined the streets with their motorcycles as they awaited Ryan’s arrival, and once he finally made his way by citizens cheered and waved, while the officers stood in full salute. It was quite the powerful scene, and the cameras eventually pan away as the firetruck leaves the crowd behind and heads off in the distance.
LIVE: 5-year-old victim of Sutherland Springs, Texas, church shooting rides home from hospital in a firetruck.
Posted by NBC News on Thursday, January 11, 2018
A GoFundme page was set up not long after the shooting to help with medical bills, and it currently stands at just over $150,o00.
Hi my name is Heather Bradley from San Saba,Tx I am related to Ryland through his mom Chancie. I am trying to raise money for Chancie and the hospital bills and other bills for Ryland and the family.Please help me raise money for my cousin’s son Ryland Ward, that was shot during the shooting in Sutherland,tx first Baptist Church. Right now he is in critical condition on a breathing tube looking to make it but going to be long journey. He was shot 5 times once in the elbow,twice in the stomach,and twice in the leg. He is 5 years old with a big heart for his other siblings,friends,and family. Please anything and everything will help my cousin out. We have set up a bank account that will go directly for Ryland and all his expenses. Thank you everyone that is and has helped us with all the donation already.
The shooting was one of the worst mass shootings on record, and particularly gruesome due to the young children who were not spared in the rampage.
The entire community was devastated, but one family in particular was hit very hard, losing 9 family members to the senseless act:
On Nov. 5, Joe and Claryce Holcombe lost their son, Bryan, 60; their daughter-in-law, Karla, 58; their grandson Danny, 36, their granddaughter-in-law Crystal, 36, who was pregnant; and four great-grandchildren: Noah, 18 months, Greg Hill, 13, Emily Hill, 11, and Megan Hill, 9, Time reported.
Despite the inconceivable tragedy, which occurred just before the holiday season began, Joe Holcombe, affectionately known as “Papa Joe,” said the family will still celebrate at Christmastime.
“We probably won’t have as much Christmas as we usually do, but we’ll have plenty,” he told Time. “It’s something definitely worth celebrating.”
Joe Holcombe admitted that the holiday may be difficult to get through, but said the family will forge on.
“I’m sure it will be hard this year, but we’ll get over that too because it won’t last long.”
Joe and Claryce Holcombe, who have been married for more than 60 years, said they find comfort in knowing that their loved ones are in heaven.
“It won’t be long until we’ll be there with the rest of the family,” he said. “I miss my family. We don’t see them coming down the sidewalk at the front door anymore. But I won’t miss them long.”
There were also several heroes that day, including one neighbor to the church who was alerted to the shooting and immediately ran to confront the shooter.
The man being hailed as a hero for shooting — and helping stop — Texas church attacker Devin Kelley spoke out on Monday, revealing the details behind his brave effort to subdue the assailant and crediting God with protecting him.
Stephen Willeford, 55, recounted how he heard gunshots inside First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and made the instantaneous decision to grab his gun and a handful of ammo, run out the door without any shoes on and engage Kelley outside of the house of worship.
“He saw me and I saw him. I was standing behind a pickup truck for cover,” he told KHBS-TV. “I know I hit him. He got into his vehicle, and he fired another couple rounds through his side window.”
Willeford, who is a former NRA instructor, continued, “When the window dropped, I fired another round at him again.”
And it didn’t end there, as Willeford — who became emotional as he said that he had friends inside First Baptist Church — hopped in a vehicle driven by a 27-year-old guy named Johnnie Langendorff, and the two bravely chased Kelley before authorities believe that the gunman took his own life.
But while people are heralding Willeford as a hero, he doesn’t consider himself to be one, crediting God with protecting him during the potentially deadly encounter.
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) November 6, 2017