SAN ANTONIO (CN) – The pastor of the Texas church where 26 people were murdered during Sunday services said he plans on demolishing the building to make room for a memorial for the dead.
Addressing leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention this week, Pastor Frank Pomeroy said it would be too painful to continue holding services for the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs inside the building where more than two dozen parishioners were executed and 20 wounded.
Pomeroy discussed the church’s future plans with the convention’s committee executives while they were in Sutherland Springs offering support and prayer to the congregation, a convention spokesman told the Associated Press.
Pomeroy hopes to convert the white, wood-framed building into a memorial and build a new place of worship on other church-owned property, according to reports.
The Texas Department of Public Safety released names of the 26 deceased victims on Wednesday, including an unborn child. Crystal Marie Holcombe, 36, was almost four months pregnant when she was killed along with three generations of her family.
Pomeroy’s 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle Renae Pomeroy, is also among the dead. The pastor and his wife, Sherri, were both out of town when the gunman opened fire on the congregation.
“One thing that gives me a sliver of encouragement is the fact that Belle was surrounded yesterday by her church family who she loved fiercely and vice-versa,” Sherri Pomeroy said on Monday.
The Baptist church in the small Central Texas town about 30 miles southeast of downtown San Antonio become the site of the country’s latest mass shooting when 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire on the congregation with his Ruger assault-style rifle. Kelley was found dead in his car after being chased by two locals.
Law enforcement officials have analyzed a video recording of the massacre but are not yet set on what drove the gunman to unleash fury inside the church. They said earlier this week that a domestic situation involving the gunman’s mother-in-law is being closely examined.
Officials sent Kelley’s cellphone to an FBI lab in Virginia on Tuesday in hopes that experts there can unravel motives behind his rampage. Forbes reported on Thursday that the FBI declined Apple’s offer for assistance.