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updated: 11/9/2017 11:25 AM

Pastor: Texas church that was attacked will be demolished

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  • CORRECTS EMILY'S LAST NAME TO HILL FROM HOLCOMBE - Vice President Mike Pence hugs Evelyn Hill at Florseville High School during a stop, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Floresville, Texas. A man opened fire inside a church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday, killing and wounding many; Hill was in the church during the shooting but escaped.

    CORRECTS EMILY'S LAST NAME TO HILL FROM HOLCOMBE - Vice President Mike Pence hugs Evelyn Hill at Florseville High School during a stop, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Floresville, Texas. A man opened fire inside a church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday, killing and wounding many; Hill was in the church during the shooting but escaped.
    Associated Press

  • CORRECTS EMILY'S LAST NAME TO HILL FROM HOLCOMBE - Vice President Mike Pence hugs Evelyn Hill at Florseville High School during a stop, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Floresville, Texas. A man opened fire inside a church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday, killing and wounding many; Hill was in the church during the shooting but escaped.

    CORRECTS EMILY'S LAST NAME TO HILL FROM HOLCOMBE - Vice President Mike Pence hugs Evelyn Hill at Florseville High School during a stop, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Floresville, Texas. A man opened fire inside a church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday, killing and wounding many; Hill was in the church during the shooting but escaped.
    Associated Press

  • Second Lady Karen Pence, center, hugs Sherri Pomeroy as her husband, Pastor Frank Pomeroy, stands at right, outside the Sutherland Spring Baptist Church during a stop, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing and wounding many.

    Second Lady Karen Pence, center, hugs Sherri Pomeroy as her husband, Pastor Frank Pomeroy, stands at right, outside the Sutherland Spring Baptist Church during a stop, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 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

  • Vice President Mike Pence hugs Pastor Frank Pomeroy outside the Sutherland Spring Baptist Church during a stop, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing and wounding many. Pomeroy's daughter was killed in the shooting.

    Vice President Mike Pence hugs Pastor Frank Pomeroy outside the Sutherland Spring Baptist Church during a stop, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing and wounding many. Pomeroy's daughter was killed in the shooting.
    Associated Press

  • U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, shakes hands with Texas Governor Greg Abbott at a prayer vigil for the victims of the shooting at Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church, held at the Floresville High School Football Stadium, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Floresville, Texas. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, shakes hands with Texas Governor Greg Abbott at a prayer vigil for the victims of the shooting at Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church, held at the Floresville High School Football Stadium, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Floresville, Texas. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
    Associated Press

  • Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a prayer vigil for the victims of the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church shooting Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Floresville, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than two dozen and injuring others. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

    Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a prayer vigil for the victims of the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church shooting Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Floresville, Texas. A man opened fire inside the church in the small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than two dozen and injuring others. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
    Associated Press

 
 

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas -- The Texas church where more than two dozen people were killed by a gunman during Sunday services will be demolished, the pastor said.

Pastor Frank Pomeroy told leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention earlier this week that it would be too painful to continue using First Baptist Church as a place of worship.

A national Southern Baptist spokesman said Pomeroy discussed the plan with the denomination's top executives, who traveled to the rural community in a show of support.

The spokesman, Sing Oldham, said the pastor described the building as "too stark of a reminder" of the massacre. Pomeroy expressed hope he could turn the site into a memorial for the dead and put up a new building on property the church owns.

On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at a memorial service for the victims of the gunman.

Pence told the crowd that the attack was the worst mass shooting at a church in American history and called the gunman "deranged."

"Whatever animated the evil that descended on that small church, if the attacker's desire was to silence their testimony of faith, they failed," the vice president added.

The governor said Texans come together at times of crisis and tragedy. "It's what we do," Abbott said. People in the crowd responded "amen."

He also proclaimed Sunday, Nov. 12 a statewide day of prayer.

Pence also visited with wounded congregants at a San Antonio hospital and met with families of the dead in Floresville, not far from Sutherland Springs. He went from table to table at a high school library, attempting to console devastated family members.

"The whole country is praying over you," he told one man who lost his sister-in-law.

He stopped to talk with John Holcombe, whose family was decimated by the shooting. Holcombe, who suffered shrapnel wounds, lost his wife, Crystal, who was pregnant with their first child. Also killed were three of her children, his parents, a brother and a toddler niece.

Pence hugged 7-year-old Evelyn Holcombe, who survived by running out of the church.

Earlier Wednesday, Pence said President Donald Trump had ordered federal agencies to provide extensive help to the investigation, including 100 on-site FBI agents.

Also Wednesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety released an official list of those killed in the rampage. The eight male victims and 17 female victims ranged in age from 1 to 77.

Eight of the fatalities were children or teenagers. The oldest of them was 16.

Authorities said the 26 dead also included Crystal Holcombe's unborn baby. All the victims died at the scene, except for one child who died at a hospital.

Eleven people remained hospitalized with wounds they suffered in the attack.

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Associated Press Religion Writer Rachel Zoll in New York contributed to this report.

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