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Survivors, Hospital Workers Continue To Recover From Sutherland Springs Shooting

Lynda Gonzalez
Community members and visitors gather in Ball Park in Sutherland Springs to hold a memorial service for the victims of the mass shooting that killed 26 people at the town's First Baptist Church on Sunday.

At home, loved ones are still waiting for survivors to be released from the hospital after the shooting at a Sutherland Springs church Sunday, killing 26 people.


Roseanne Solis was shot in the arm on Sunday. Her husband, Joaquin Ramirez, was hit by shrapnel. As they left University Hospital Monday night, Solis said the scene at First Baptist Church was one of chaos.

“Everybody started screaming, yelling, everybody got down, crawling to wherever they could hide,” she said. “It was so scary and that man was shooting; I mean he was shooting hard.”

Solis told KSAT News in San Antonio they survived by hiding under the pews and playing dead. She said she felt lucky to already be going home.

Leni Kirkman with University Hospital said its goal is to get Sutherland Springs patients back with family and love ones as soon as possible. Still, many of the victims will require follow-up visits and in some cases additional surgeries.

“It’s pretty customary for trauma patients to follow up in our trauma follow-up clinic after their injury,” she said. “And really the number of times they will need to come back depends on the severity of those injuries.”

One victim still in the hospital is 5 year-old Ryland Ward. Ryland was one three children shielded from the gunfire by his stepmother Joann Ward, who died during the shooting. His two sisters were also killed.

From Sutherland Springs, Ryland’s grandmother Sandy Ward keeps close tabs on his recovery. She described her grandson as a typical 5year old with a bright imagination.

“Ryland, he’s just a little boy, full of spit and vinegar, can’t sit still and into everything,” she said.

Ward said Ryland went through two emergency surgeries since being transported to the San Antonio hospital.

“He was shot twice in the abdomen, once in the arm and he was shot once in his thigh area,” she said, “and somehow it came out his side.”

Ward said doctors told the family it could be months before Ryland is able to go home.

Like Ryland, young Evelyn Holcombe’s a survivor whose lost many: her mom, grandfather, brothers and sisters — eight family members in all. Holcombe’s head was grazed by one of the gunman’s bullets. She was released by Brook Army Medical Center on Monday.

Holcombe’s great-uncle George Hill said Evelyn’s doing as well as could be expected. Hill is a veterinarian who lives in Floresville, next to Sutherland Springs. He hopes his niece is able to keep the family’s spirit, even after this tragedy.

“She was vivacious, they all were,” he said. “She just loves life.”

While most of the victims were transferred to San Antonio area trauma hospitals on Sunday, many started out at Floresville's Connally Memorial Medical Center. Mandi Sralla, executive director of nursing, said the hospital initially received eight shooting victims. She says it’s been a tough week for hospital staff.

“One great thing is we have had an outpouring of concern and generosity from pastors and counselors here in community,” she said. “Almost immediately, pastors and counselors were up here helping not only with the patients but also with the staff deal with the things that were going on and their emotions.”

Though only one Sutherland victim remains hospitalized there, Sralla said most people working at Memorial Medical know at least one person who died — and are most likely keeping tabs on other’s conditions from afar.

Ryan Poppe can be reached at rpoppe@tpr.org or on Twitter @RyanPoppe1

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.