Texas church, site of deadly massacre, to be demolished
John Bacon, USA TODAY
The pastor of the Texas church where a gunman killed 25 people says he plans on demolishing the building, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention said Thursday.
Frank Pomeroy told convention leaders that conducting services at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs would be too painful following Sunday's massacre, convention spokesman Roger Oldham told USA TODAY.
"The pastor expressed his desire that perhaps the best way forward is to have the church demolished and replaced with a prayer garden," Oldham said. But Oldham added that parishioners haven't "had a chance to fully deal with the grief and then come together to make a decision."
Viewings for some of the victims will be held this weekend. The convention, through the North American Mission Board, has offered to cover funeral expenses for all the victims.
Oldham said First Baptist had about 100 members before Devin Kelley's rampage that wounded an additional 20 people in the small, white clapboard church. Pomeroy hopes to build another church on the property, Oldham said.
The president of the convention's executive committee, Frank Page, was in Sutherland Springs for two days this week ministering to Pomeroy and his parishioners. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention website list specific prayer requests for the church, along with links for financial donations.
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More: Texas church shooting: Sutherland Springs prepares to bury its lost
The state has also offered financial assistance, and Gov. Greg Abbott pronounced Sunday a day of prayer. Pomeroy, whose 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle, was killed in the carnage, plans to hold a service Sunday at a local community center.
But repairing the bullet-riddled church had little support among his surviving parishioners, Pomeroy told the Wall Street Journal.
"There’s too many that do not want to go back in there," he said.
Sutherland Spring Baptist Church pastor Frank Pomeroy
Sutherland Spring Baptist Church pastor Frank Pomeroy hugs a woman as he visits with family and victims before a vigil on Nov. 8, 2017, in Floresville, Texas. (Photo: Eric Gay, AP)
Family members, friends and neighbors continued to mourn their loved ones. Cory Fuller, 42, remembered her friend Joann Ward as someone would do anything to help someone in need.
“She give up her time, what little money they had, anything in service of anybody… who needed help,” Fuller said. “It didn’t matter.”
Michael Kelley, the father of the gunman, said his family is also grieving. But he told ABC News he doesn't want to discuss his son or the shooting.
"I don't want our lives, our grandchildren's lives destroyed by this media circus," he said.
Contributing: Eleanor Dearman, Corpus Christi Caller-Times