Grandmother loses 2 grandchildren, daughter-in-law in Texas church shooting

Sandy Ward's grandson shot 5 times in hospital

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas – A grandmother is still in shock after losing two of her grandchildren and her daughter-in-law, who were all victims of the Sutherland Springs shooting on Sunday.

Sandy Ward lost her granddaughter, Emily, 7, Sunday night.

"They came down and told us that they were still working on Emily," Ward said. "But it didn't look like she was going to make it and everybody broke down and I said, ‘Keep praying. Keep praying.’ And then she ended up passing away."

Ward’s son, Chris Ward, was not at church during the shooting, but his wife, Joann, had taken their children: Emily, Brooke, Rianna and Ryland.

Related: Mother killed while trying to protect children from gunfire

In the moments after the shooting, first responders found Rianna, who survived. 

Ryland, 5, had been shot five times and was transported to the hospital. Emily was also shot and transported to University Hospital, where she later died.

But family could not find Joann and Brooke.


Just before midnight, Sandy Ward got the call that Brooke, 5, was killed, and then on Monday, Sandy was told her daughter-in-law, Joann, was found dead as well.

"We found out about 1 o'clock that morning," Ward said. "They said they should have realized it because when they found her body, she was holding Brooke in her arms."

Sandy Ward’s granddaughter, Rianna, said she looked at the shooter in the eye and that when she fell, he must have thought she was dead.

Read: First responder describes losing family in Texas church shooting

"The oldest one, Rianna, the one that survived, she told us that she looked at the gunman and he fired at her and it knocked her glasses off her face. Not a scratch on her. Thank God. That's a miracle," Sandy Ward said. "She said her mom covered Ryland and Brooke and Emily with her body. When we heard that, we figured that Ryland has five gunshot wounds, Emily didn't make it, which means a lot of the bullets had to go through Joann.

Read more about the Texas church shooting

Sandy Ward said she wasn't feeling well so she didn't go to church that Sunday morning and Joann had just started going to church there.

Sandy Ward said right now she's worried about her grandson, Ryland, who was shot five times. She said she's also worried about her son, Chris, who has lost his wife and two of his children.

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About the Author:

Stephanie Serna is a weekday anchor on Good Morning San Antonio and GMSA at 9 a.m. She joined the KSAT 12 News team in November 2009 as a general assignments reporter.