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updated: 11/6/2017 6:02 PM

Relative: Pregnant woman, 3 children, in-laws slain in Texas

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  • Sheree Rumph of San Antonio prays over two of the 26 crosses erected in memory of the 26 people killed in a shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. The shooting took place during a Sunday service at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

    Sheree Rumph of San Antonio prays over two of the 26 crosses erected in memory of the 26 people killed in a shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. The shooting took place during a Sunday service at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
    Associated Press

  • Kenneth and Irene Hernandez pay their respects as they visit a makeshift memorial with crosses placed near the scene of a shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing and wounding many.

    Kenneth and Irene Hernandez pay their respects as they visit a makeshift memorial with crosses placed near the scene of a shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing and wounding many.
    Associated Press

  • Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his wife Sherri join a news conference near the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than two dozens and injuring others. The Pomeroy's daugher, Annabelle, 14, was killed in the shooting.

    Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his wife Sherri join a news conference near the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than two dozens and injuring others. The Pomeroy's daugher, Annabelle, 14, was killed in the shooting.
    Associated Press

  • Rebecca Thompson, right, places her head on her husband Jim's chest while visiting a makeshift memorial near the First Baptist Church, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where a mass shooting occurred Sunday. Texas officials confirmed Devin Patrick Kelley as the shooter who killed at least 26 people and wounded about 20 others at the church.

    Rebecca Thompson, right, places her head on her husband Jim's chest while visiting a makeshift memorial near the First Baptist Church, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where a mass shooting occurred Sunday. Texas officials confirmed Devin Patrick Kelley as the shooter who killed at least 26 people and wounded about 20 others at the church.
    Associated Press

  • Laura Torres, right, and Sonia Yanez visit a line of crosses before a vigil for the victims of Sunday's First Baptist Church shooting, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than 20 and wounding many.

    Laura Torres, right, and Sonia Yanez visit a line of crosses before a vigil for the victims of Sunday's First Baptist Church shooting, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than 20 and wounding many.
    Associated Press

  • Michelle Trigo, right, carries balloons to lay near the site of Sunday's shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017.  Trigo's friend Malinda Lamford, left, brought roses to lay at the small memorial growing down the street along Highway 87. (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    Michelle Trigo, right, carries balloons to lay near the site of Sunday's shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. Trigo's friend Malinda Lamford, left, brought roses to lay at the small memorial growing down the street along Highway 87. (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)
    Associated Press

  • Flags mark evidence on the lawn of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, a day after over 20 people died in a mass shooting Sunday. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

    Flags mark evidence on the lawn of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, a day after over 20 people died in a mass shooting Sunday. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
    Associated Press

  • Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his wife Sherri join a news conference near the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing and wounding many. The Pomeroy's daughter, Annabelle, 14, was killed in the shooting.

    Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his wife Sherri join a news conference near the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing and wounding many. The Pomeroy's daughter, Annabelle, 14, was killed in the shooting.
    Associated Press

 
 

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas -- John Holcombe regularly posted upcoming Sunday school lessons on his Facebook page for fellow members of the First Baptist Church in the tiny South Texas community of Sutherland Springs. The expectant father said the latest lesson would continue the class' focus on Exodus.

The following morning, a gunman's rampage through the small church spared Holcombe's life - but not those of his pregnant wife, three of her children, his parents, his brother and a toddler niece. They were among 26 people fatally shot during a gunman's shooting rampage Sunday that also killed several members of at least one other extended family.

Holcombe and his wife, Crystal, who was a widow, had recently married, said Julius Kepper, who lives about two blocks from the church.

"She was starting her life all over again," he told The Associated Press. "That's a crying shame."

Michael Ward rushed to the church after he was abruptly awoken by his wife, Leslie, when she heard a peal of gunfire from that direction as she set up a yard sale. Ward told The Dallas Morning News he found and carried out his 5-year-old nephew, Ryland, who had four gunshot wounds.

The boy was flown to University Hospital in nearby San Antonio, but the child's mother and two of his sisters were killed. On Monday, the yard sale was still set up, with clothes laid out or hung on plastic racks, along with kitchen items. No one was there.

Another victim was the pastor's 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle Pomeroy. Her parents were both out of town when the shootings erupted.

The victims ranged in age from 18 months to 77 years old. Another 20 people were wounded, several of them critically, according to investigators.

Investigators said the gunman had recently sent threatening texts to his mother-in-law, a member of the church, and the shooting appears to have been driven by domestic tensions. The local sheriff said the gunman was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he was chased by two community members and crashed his vehicle.

One victim was the grandmother of the gunman's wife.

Crystal Holcombe was an industrious 36-year-old mother who studied karate, loved to bake and raised goats. Images she posted last month showed her 11-year-old daughter Emily placing third in a county archery competition, while others showed her children standing behind cookies and cakes they'd made for a bake sale.

Emily was among the children killed Sunday.

Wilson County sheriff's deputies were posted outside the Holcombes' home, which is across a dusty two-lane road from grazing cattle. It's a short drive from First Baptist Church. It's also close to the Wards' house.

___

Schmall reported from Fort Worth, Texas. Associated Press writers James Vertuno in Sutherland Springs, Claudia Lauer in Dallas and Frank Bajak in Houston contributed to this report.

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