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First Anniversary Of Mass Shooting In Sutherland Springs

One of the survivors say they looked at death in the eye but chose not to hate.

Memorials and messages hang on a fence at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Monday November 5, 2018, marks the first anniversary of the mass shooting at Sutherland Springs’ First Baptist Church, which left 25 people dead. Authorities put the official death toll at 26 because one of the victims was pregnant. More than half those killed were children.

About 400 people attended a service and remembrance event on Sunday, November 4. The sanctuary where the shooting occurred still stands as a memorial.

The sanctuary was full and people in a overflow tent watched and prayed along as Sunday's sermon was delivered.

David Colbath, a member of the church who was hit multiple times in the shooting, said that over the last 12 months the people of Sutherland Springs and First Baptist chose not to hate with the help of God.

“We have looked death in the eye,” Colbath noted while adding that the community chose “to get up, carry on, build god's word, build god's church, and be a part of that in our community.”

Governor Greg Abbott attended the service and remembrance event in Sutherland Springs.

Governor Greg Abbott attended the service and remembrance event and praised the Sutherland Springs community for coming together. “Together, we will work every day to honor the memory of those who died,” said Abbott.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn released a statement saying “Texans have poured their love and support into the First Baptist community, but the lives tragically taken that day can never be brought back.” “As we remember that solemn day,”, Cornyn’s statement added, “please join me once again in prayer for First Baptist Church, the victims of this senseless violence, and the entire Sutherland Springs community.”

In response to the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Cornyn authored the Fix NICS Act to strengthen the criminal background check system and ensure convicted felons and domestic abusers cannot lawfully purchase a firearm. The bill was signed into law on March 23, 2018.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz also released a statement in which he highlighted that “the memorial tower of the new First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs will be a lasting home for the bell of the old church.”

“When it rings out for future generations,” Cruz said in his statement, “it will make a joyful noise: one of remembrance, of victory, and of trust that a joy deeper than our understanding blooms in the midst of sorrow. It will be heard across Texas, across the world, and wherever people are gathered in worship.”

A new church is being built on the grounds and is expected to be open by April.

Sutherland Springs is about 200 miles west of Houston.

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