Valley Church Member Loses Friends, Family in Shooting

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WESLACO – Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church is a small church like many in the Rio Grande Valley: it’s composed of a large community.

On Monday, Weslaco First Baptist Church Pastor Steven Parker said the lives lost in one of the largest mass shootings in Texas came close to home for some members of his congregation.

"We had a church member who had some dear friends who were killed in that attack. They worked together on different mission projects and it was just really heartbreaking," he said.

The loss is being felt very close to the Valley. Many of those inside at the time were family and friends. Phillip Montgomery considered them both.

Some of the 26 church members who died and 20 others injured in Sutherland Springs also went on mission trips with Valley church members.

"Yesterday, I was shaken," said Montgomery.

Montgomery met with some of Sutherland Springs Church members every summer.

"We worked together at a church camp for over 20 years, helping teaching young men and woman how to be believers and followers of our Lord Jesus Christ,” said Montgomery.

Montgomery said he received phone calls from his friends about what happened. He knows seven of the people who were inside the church.

"I actually know the pastor whose daughter was killed. I have two other friends that one who's been released from the hospital but his daughter is in ICU. I have another friend who is in intensive care ICU. I do not know the full extent of him,” said Montgomery.

He remembers one of his friends who died.

"The main one I worked with was a very giving man. He was very selfless. He was willing to share. He was willing to help people. He always has a smile on his face,” said Montgomery.

Montgomery wants others to keep praying for his church family.

"As they try to put their lives together because that was almost the whole church,” said Montgomery.

He plans to go to Sutherland Springs for their funerals.

Families of those whose lives were lost are reaching out through social media to friends and extended family. 

Police still don't know the motivation for this killing spree.


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