Pastor may demolish Texas church where massacre took place

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The pastor of a rural Texas church sprayed with gunfire in a shooting rampage that killed 26 people is considering demolishing the building and putting a memorial in its place, a Southern Baptist Convention official said on Thursday.

Devin Kelley, the 26-year-old gunman, stormed into the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church on Sunday and opened fire on worshipers with a semi-automatic assault rifle in the deadliest mass shooting in modern Texas history. Authorities said the attack stemmed from a domestic dispute.

Pastor Frank Pomeroy met with Southern Baptist Convention leaders, who came to help console victims, and "expressed his desire to raze the building," convention spokesman Roger Oldham said in a telephone interview.

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Some of the victims of the Texas church shooting
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Some of the victims of the Texas church shooting
Haley Krueger was described as a beautiful and vibrant girl who had dreams of becoming a NICU nurse, according to a GoFundMe set up in her memory. She was 16. 

(Photo via GoFundMe)
Annabelle Pomeroy was the daughter of the pastor of the First Baptist Church. Both of her parents were out of town at the time of shooting. She was 14 years old. 

(Photo via Facebook)

Eight members of the same family were killed in the shooting, including Crystal Holcombe, who was pregnant. Three of her kids and her unborn child were also killed.

(Social media/Handout via REUTERS)

Megan Hill, 9

(Social media/Handout via REUTERS)

Gregory Hill, 13

(Social media/Handout via REUTERS)

Emily Hill, 11

(Social media/Handout via REUTERS)

Dennis Johnson Sr. and his wife Sara had celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary in July and were members of the church for more than a decade, according to a fundraising page created in their memory.

(Photo via GoFundMe)

Bryan Holcombe and his wife Karla Plain Holcombe, were both victims of the mass shooting. Bryan was an associate pastor at the church and was reported'y preparing to lead the congregation in mass when the shooting began.

(Social media/Handout via REUTERS)

Tara Elyse McNulty was remembered as a 'sweet, kind and loving woman, mother and daughter' on a GoFundMe page created in her memory. Her kids were reportedly injured in the shooting, but survived. 

(Photo via GoFundMe)

Lula Woicinski White was the gunman's grandmother-in-law. Her sister told the New York Daily News that 'she loved the people in her church. They were all her best friends.' She was 71.

(Photo via Facebook)

Joann Ward reportedly died while trying to use herself as a shield to protect her four young children.

(Social media/Handout via REUTERS)

Brooke was killed along with her mother, Joann Ward, and her older sister. She was 5 years old.

(Photo via GoFundMe)

Emily Garza, 7

(Social media/Handout via REUTERS)

Shani Corrigan and her husband Robert Corrigan

(Social media/Handout via REUTERS)

Richard Rodriguez attended church every Sunday, according to his daughter. He was 51 years old.

(Social media/Handout via REUTERS)

Therese Sagan Rodriguez was killed along with her husband, Richard. She was 66. 
Robert and Karen Marshall were new to Texas and trying out churches when they were killed in Sutherland Springs… https://t.co/vDn9EeYHJA
Peggy Lynn Warden https://t.co/qkj3Vqg0SO #KSATnews https://t.co/XRLt20hg8M
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The white-steepled church, located about 40 miles east of San Antonio, was riddled with bullets.

The building can hold about 75 people. Pomeroy said using it again could be emotionally painful, according to Oldham.

After making a statement on the shooting on Monday, Pomeroy has declined requests to speak with the media.

Pomeroy and his wife, Sherri, were out of town during the shooting, which killed their 14-year-old daughter. The pastor is considering planting a memorial garden on the site, Oldham said.

A worship service will take place on Sunday in Sutherland Springs behind a community center not far from the church, Sherri Pomeroy posted on Facebook on Thursday.

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Photos from the scene of the Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting
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Photos from the scene of the Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting a church nearby. A gunman shot dead at least 20 worshippers attending Sunday morning services at a Baptist church in Texas, news media reported. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting a church nearby. A gunman shot dead at least 20 worshippers attending Sunday morning services at a Baptist church in Texas, news media reported. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting at the the First Baptist Church. A gunman went into the church during Sunday morning services and shot dead some two dozen worshippers, the sheriff said, in the latest mass shooting to shock the US. 'Approximately 25 people' were dead, including the shooter, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told NBC News. At least 10 people were wounded. The motive was not immediately known, he added. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Police block a road in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, 2017, after a mass shooting at the the First Baptist Church (rear). A gunman went into the church during Sunday morning services and shot dead some two dozen worshippers, the sheriff said, in the latest mass shooting to shock the US. 'Approximately 25 people' were dead, including the shooter, Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told NBC News. At least 10 people were wounded. The motive was not immediately known, he added. / AFP PHOTO / SUZANNE CORDEIRO (Photo credit should read SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 6: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement and forensic officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: A forensics official passes by the entrance to the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near the First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 20 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Police are at the scene of the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Families gather at the community center awaiting news about the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
Police have closed off the roads near the scene of the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
First responders are at the shooting scene at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
First responders are at the scene of shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
First responders are at the scene of shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Mitchell
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: People gather near First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 26 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, allegedly entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Law enforcement officials gather near First Baptist Church following a shooting on November 5, 2017 in Sutherland Springs, Texas. At least 26 people were reportedly killed and 24 injured when a gunman, identified as Devin P. Kelley, 26, allegedly entered the church during a service and opened fire. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
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The service will "show the world that we may be knocked down temporarily but WE ARE NOT DEFEATED," she wrote. "Please come help us honor their lives doing what they died for: worshipping our sovereign God!"Authorities have said Kelley, found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head after a failed attempt to make his getaway, was embroiled in a domestic dispute involving the parents of his second wife.

One of the women killed at the church, Lula Woicinski White, 71, was reported to be the gunman's grandmother-in-law.

Kelley is a former Air Force airman who was convicted in 2012 by court-martial for assaulting his first wife and infant step-son. He served a year in military detention.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Texas Governor Greg Abbott were among those who attended a prayer vigil on Wednesday evening at a high school football stadium in nearby Floresville.

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Vice President Mike Pence visits Texas after church shooting
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Vice President Mike Pence visits Texas after church shooting
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence shakes hands with Johnnie Langendorff, who was one of the heroes that chased the assailant, near the site of the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence hugs Evelyn Holcombe at Floresville highschool in Floresville, Texas, U.S., November 8, 2017. Holcombe was in the church during the shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence hugs Joe Holcombe at Floresville high school in Floresville, Texas, U.S., November 8, 2017. Holcombe was in the church during the shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. Holcombe lost eight extended family members during the shooting. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
U.S. vice-president Mike Pence (R) hugs Stephen Willeford, the man who shot the shooter in the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Floresville, Texas, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence hugs Pastor Frank Pomeroy, whose daughter was killed in the recent shooting, near First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (L) greets U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as he arrives at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, U.S., November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen greet a couple at Floresville high school during a visit with family and victims of the shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, before a vigil in Floresville, Texas, U.S., November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
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(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Lisa Maria Garza in San Antonio; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lisa Von Ahn)

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