'Amazing grace': Family that lost 9 in Sutherland Springs shooting encourages forgiveness at tearful funeral

A family that lost members of three generations in the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church shooting earlier this month asked around 3,000 mourners at a funeral yesterday to reject anger and instead bask in the love showed by the victims.

Friends and relatives of the Holcombe family, which suffered the death of nine members in the attack that killed 26 people at the Texas church on November 5, choked back tears as they spoke from a stage above a line of flower-adorned caskets.

Flowers decorate the fence around the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed one week ago, as the church opens to the public as a memorial to those killed, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 12, 2017.Reuters

Frank Pomeroy, the church's pastor whose daughter also was among the shooting victims, said the deaths had cast a pall over the area. But he said his spirit rejoiced knowing the Holcombe family members and others who perished had been reunited in heaven and that better days were ahead.

'Our day of joy is going to come,' said Pomeroy, who was out of town when the attack occurred.

Authorities have said the attack stemmed from a domestic dispute. The shooter, identified by authorities as Devin Kelley, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a failed getaway attempt.

Among those killed in the church were John Bryan Holcombe, who was leading services, and his wife Karla. Their son Marc 'Danny' Holcombe died along with his 18-month-old daughter Noah.

His sister-in-law Crystal Holcombe and her three children from her first marriage, Emily, Megan and Greg Hill, also died.

Crystal Holcombe was several months pregnant. Under Texas law, her unborn child, named Carlin Brite Holcombe, is considered a victim.

Small crosses were erected in Sutherland Springs to commemorate each of the 26 people, including an unborn baby, who died in the attackReuters

John Holcombe, Crystal's husband and a survivor of the attack, described her as a beautiful person inside and out and said he was blessed for the time he had with his stepchildren.

'Crystal's life is a reminder to all of us that love never fails,' he said. 'She was a virtuous woman who served God with all her heart.'

As the funeral closed, her casket and those of her family members were taken out of the auditorium while 'Amazing Grace' was played on bagpipes.

Additional reporting by Reuters.