With a reported 26 people confirmed dead — not counting the shooter — in the Sutherland Springs massacre, approximately between 4 and 7 percent of the small Texas town’s population is now gone.
Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt, told reporters that no one present during the shooting was unaffected.
“I think nearly everyone had some type of injury,” the sheriff said.
The unincorporated town is 30 miles southeast of San Antonio, consisting mostly of a gas station, a post office, a community center and some convenience stores. Multiple churches make up a large part of the community’s institutions, and First Baptist Church had been a staple in the community since 1926, the New York Times reported.
Joseph Silva, 49, lived a few miles away from Sutherland Springs. He described the small town as “a one-blinking-light-town.”
“There is a gas station and a post office,” Silva said to the Times. “That’s about all there really is.”
YouTube videos of past sermons show just how small First Baptist church was on the inside. The videos show approximately two rows of about eight pews. Some of the congregation can be seen visiting with one another in the church. In addition to the 26 deaths, 20 people were reportedly injured. Several regular churchgoers skipped the service for various reasons.
Michael Ward and his wife, daughter and mother-in-law were some of those who stayed home.
“I’ve talked to so many people today who were supposed to be in that church today but weren’t,” Ward said to BuzzFeed News. “The pastor wasn’t here. There were people who said they hadn’t missed a day in 20 years and didn’t go today. I don’t know what that means.”
Ward tragically lost his sister-in-law and nieces and has a nephew in stable condition at the hospital, reports the Dallas Morning News.
Beulah Wilson, 88, and her husband Jonah chose Sutherland Springs as their home 70 years ago and never left, reports the Times.
“Everybody knew everybody,” Ms. Wilson said. “You didn’t keep your doors locked or your cars locked, unless you lived on the main street. We had no crime here.”
“This hurts everybody,” she said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the massacre “the largest mass shooting” in the state’s history. With such a small population, everyone in the town has been impacted.