Almost four years after 26 people were killed in the horrific shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the building is expected to be demolished.
Shooter Devin Patrick Kelley entered the church on November 5, 2017 and opened fire on the crowd during a Sunday morning worship service. The victims were between 5 and 72 years old.
According to News 4 in San Antonio, members of the congregation voted on Sunday to raze the shrine after it was deemed structurally unsafe.
âOnce you’re there, the beautiful white walls, the white ceiling, the white floor, the white chairs, the names on the chairs of everyone they’ve lost,â said Terrie Smith, president of Sutherland Springs. Community Association. “The single red rose, the beautiful big cross in the center. It gives you a hug by everyone.”
Smith added, “It’s just a beautiful, peaceful place. Little, little church, little little community with lots of humble people and humble angels we’ve lost.”
TODAY: I spoke with members of the Sutherland Springs community and could hear the pain in their voices.
Church members voted 69 to 35 to level the structure.
You may remember just a week after the shooting, the picturesque building was turned into a memorial to the victims. pic.twitter.com/vXCBqumpiH
– Morgan Burrell (@Morgan_Burrell) August 22, 2021
The church sanctuary was turned into a memorial and a new church building was built next to it in 2019.
On opening day, Pastor Frank Pomeroy told the crowd they were celebrating the glory of God while remembering “those who paid a price for this incredible facility”.
The church commemorated the victims by reading their names as the church bell rang, and those related to them stood in the crowd. Pomeroy’s 14-year-old daughter Annabelle Pomeroy was among those killed.
The new worship center and memorial hall honoring the victims have been made possible by millions of dollars in donations from around the world. The facility includes improved security features, as well as a new church steeple and additional prayer space.
Investigators said the attack appeared to stem from a family dispute involving Kelley and her mother-in-law, who sometimes attended church services but were not there on the day of the shooting.
Kelley died of a gunshot wound he apparently inflicted on himself after being shot by a neighbor, then fled in a vehicle as he was pursued by two men who heard gunshots coming from the church.
Some survivors and family members of the victims said the former place of worship is a painful reminder of the tragedy that devastated the small town.
The mass shooting is considered the deadliest church shooting in U.S. history.
CBN News contacted First Baptist Church for comment but had no response at time of posting.
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