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.