Sutherland Springs opens memorial to church shooting victims

Surviving members of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, worshiped with hundreds of supporters Sunday during their first service since last week’s mass shooting. Pastor Frank Pomeroy, who was out of town during the Nov. 5 attack, delivered a heart-wrenching message under a large white tent set up on a nearby baseball field. “Rather than choose darkness as that young man did that day, we choose life. I know everyone who gave their life that day. Some of whom were my best friends, and my daughter,” Pomeroy said, his voice cracking as he paused to wipe tears from his eyes. “I guarantee they are dancing with Jesus today.” Pomeroy’s 14-year-old daughter Annabelle was one of the 26 people killed in the rampage. On Sunday evening, survivors entered the church for the first time since the shooting. After investigators finished their work at the site, crews filled bullet holes, replaced shattered windows, and painted every surface a brilliant white. Folding chairs with each victim’s name printed in gold across the front stood where each body fell. The memorial will remain open to the public during the week. Pomeroy has said he wants to demolish the structure and build a new church at another site.

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