Many families gather at houses of worship, bringing multiple generations together under the same roof on a regular basis, The Holcombe’s were one such family. Now, eight members representing three generations are dead, including a pregnant woman and four children, the youngest of which was 18-months old, after a gunman opened fire at their small church last Sunday.
As reported by the New York Times, Bryan Holcombe was coming in to lead the service, filling in for Frank Pomeroy, the regular pastor, who was traveling at the time. Bryan’s wife Karla was in attendance as well as their adult son Danny and his daughter, Noah.
John, Bryan and Karla’s other son, was also attending the service with his pregnant wife, Crystal, and their five children.
Bryan had just reached the pulpit when the shooting reportedly began. He was killed in the gunfire along with his wife Karla, their son Danny and his daughter Noah.
John survived the shooting, but Crystal was killed, along with her unborn child. Three of Crystal’s five children were also slain, and the other two were injured.
Joe and Claryce Holcombe, Bryan’s parents, were not in attendance that day and heard about the shooting nearly an hour after it happened when a member of the church they attend, located in Floresville, Texas, called to tell them.
“He said there was a big shooting and he didn’t say much more than that,” said Joe, 86.
It wasn’t until they spoke with the head pastor that the began to understand what had happened.
According to his parents, Bryan had been involved with the church since he was a child.
During an interview with the Washington Post, Joe stated, “We knew when he was born that he was going to be a preacher,” continuing, “His first word was ‘God.’”
As news trickled in, Joe and Claryce hosted a group of nearby pastors and church members in their home and prayed.
“It’s, of course, going to be difficult,” said Joe. But, he added, “We are Christians. We have read the book. We know the ending, and it’s good.”
“They’re in heaven,” Joe continued. “And they’re a lot better off than we are.”
In total, 26 people were killed during the massacre at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The shooter, who originally fled the scene, was also found dead from a gunshot wound.
While Joe and Claryce state they are still coming to terms with what happened, Joe asserted that the shooter is “being rewarded right now for what he did, and for all eternity.”
Claryce added, “We need to pray for his family, because they’re going through a terrible time, too.”
“God will see us through,” said Joe. “We’ll all be together soon.”
A GoFundMe campaign was started to support the Holcombe’s. As of this writing, it had raised nearly $440,000.