Sutherland Springs residents reflect on church tragedy five years later

Known as one of the deadliest mass shootings in Texas history, Nov. 5, 2022 marks five years since the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs shooting.

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas – This weekend, residents in Sutherland Springs and surrounding communities are preparing to memorialize the people who fell victim to the mass shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs five years ago.

Residents who lost friends and family said it’s a day they will never forget. “We got the phone call that there was a gunman on the loose. We had to lock everything down. We heard gunshots as they were happening. It just didn’t sound right, and that’s when we knew something was terribly wrong,” said Carrie Matula.

Matula works at a gas station down the street from the church. She said she was at work when the mass shooting happened.

According to reports, roughly 30 minutes after the start of Sunday service on Nov. 5, 2017, a gunman killed 26 people and injured 22 in the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.

Over the course of the next five years, the community spent time rebuilding. The community is also using this time to offer hope to people in Uvalde, where 19 students and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary on May 24, 2022.

“Just stay united. Compassionate hearts heal, and it’s very hard. Our hearts go out to them because we know how hard that is,” said Terrie Smith, president of the Sutherland Springs Community Association.

Smith said part of rebuilding is honoring the survivors and remembering the fallen. It’s part of the reason First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs is hosting a memorial ceremony at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022.

“We all have good memories of them. They were simple, humble people, that this is country life, small town, small community with big hearts,” said Smith.

The memorial ceremony is open to the public. The church is located at 216 4th Street in Sutherland Springs.

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About the Authors:

Allysa Cole is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in September 2022. She previously worked in the Rio Grande Valley at KGBT, KRGV and Azteca Valle. She started her career at WHPM FOX23 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, after graduating from University of Southern Mississippi. Allysa is a Detroit native.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.