Joann Ward

By Van Darden - Managing Editor
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SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas - Joann Ward, 30, died attempting to protect her children during the shooting, according to a family friend.

Ward had pushed down all her children when she saw the gunman enter the church and open fire on them.

Texas Church Shooting: Mother killed while trying to protect children from gunfire

"Little Rihanna was there at the shooting but mommy pushed her down when she saw the shooter open fire," the friend, Vonda Smith, said on Facebook.

"So in (Rihanna's) words, 'I didn’t get shot because I was hiding, and momma covered Emily, Ryland & Brooke,'” according to Smith’s Facebook post. 

Joann Ward leaves behind her husband, Chris Ward, and two surviving children, Ryland and Rihanna Ward.

Ryland was hospitalized after being shot several times in the attack.

Her daughters Brooke Ward, 5, and Emily Garcia, 7, were also killed in Sunday's shooting, according to Rob Smith, Joann Ward's brother-in-law.

To learn more about the Sutherland Springs tragedy, click here.

To learn more about each victim, click here.

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