A 5-year-old boy who lost his mother and two of his sisters in the massacre at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, which left 26 people dead and 20 others injured is on a long journey to recovery after he was found among the pews suffering from multiple gunshot wounds on Sunday.
The boy, Ryland Ward, was discovered by his aunt, Leslie Ward, after suffering five gunshot wounds to his stomach, groin and arm, his uncle Michael Ward told The Dallas Morning News, according to the Christian Post.
Leslie explained how she was at her home when she heard gunfire coming from the church. She immediately rushed to help.
“I found my nephew in the front, in pain,” she said of Ryland.
His mother, Joann Ward, and sisters Brooke Ward, 5, and Emily Garza, 7, did not survive. Another sibling, Rihanna, survived after a bullet ripped her glasses from her face.
Heather Bradley, a cousin of the boy’s family from San Saba, Texas, started a GoFundMe campaign seeking to raise $100,000 to help pay for his medical bills.
“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,” she wrote on Sunday.
UG Christian News has learnt that the shooter, Devin Kelley, 26, attended a festival at the chapel just days before he opened fire on congregants, according to a report.
Further more, this website has learnt that Kelley escaped from Peak Behavioral Health Services Inc., a mental facility, where he was considered a “danger to himself and others as he had already been caught sneaking in firearms onto Holloman Air Force base” and was “attempting to carry out death threats” on his military chain of command, according to the police report.
USA Air Force confirmed Tuesday that Kelley once assaulted his then-wife and hit her child hard enough to fracture the boy’s skull.
The tragic shooting happened Sunday after Kelley began firing at the church shortly after the 11 a.m. service began, officials told The New York Times. He was armed with a Ruger military-style rifle and in his minutes-long assault on the church everyone inside was either dead or wounded.
Kelley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he was chased by bystanders and crashed his car.
Elsewhere, following this mass shooting, prominent pastors in USA are responding to the important question: “Is prayer useless if it can’t protect Christians at church?”
“In this fallen world when the spirit of evil is raging, all things that happen are not good. Yet, our faith and hope remains in God alone. When we pray we are depending on God for strength; when we do not pray, we choose to depend upon ourselves which always lead to unbelief.” Pastor Ronnie Floyd, president of National Day of Prayer and senior pastor at Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, told the Christian Post.
“In this time of heartbreak and tragedy, we remember Jesus’ Words: ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ We take comfort in knowing that whatever evil may come Jesus is with us,” Franklin Graham said.
Author and evangelist Anne Graham Lotz reflected: “Life is about more than temporary safety, health, happiness, prosperity. It’s about a relationship with Him that transcends those things. He never, ever has promised to protect us from suffering, pain, and death.”
She added: “But He has promised to be with us and bring us through … when we place our faith in Him.”