Mum Used Herself As Human Shield To Protect Her Kids In Texas Shooting
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When gunman Devin Patrick Kelley stormed into a Texas Baptist church and opened fire on the congregation, mum Joann Ward instinctively went to protect her kids.
She pushed her 9-year-old daughter Rihanna to the floor and out of harm's way, before using herself as a human shield for her three other children.
Devastatingly, Joann and her 5-year-old daughter Emily died at the scene and her other daughter, Emily, died later in hospital. Her son, Ryland, was shot multiple times by the gunman, but is still clinging to life in hospital.
Local media reports say Joann's husband, Chris, wasn't at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs that morning because he had finished a night shift and was at home asleep.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by Joann's uncle, John Alexander, to help the surviving family cope in the wake of this awful massacre.
Incredibly, a little more than 300 people have collectively raised more than $19,000 (£14,449).
John writes: "Joann was the most wonderful mom any child could wish for and her children were always laughing and loving life.
"I can imagine the costs burden on her surviving husband and family. Any contribution you can make will go directly to help with funeral costs, medical costs and other losses due to this horrific tragedy."
Shooter Devin Patrick Kelley. Credit: PA
A separate GoFundMe page has been started just for Ryland, by family relative Heather Bradley.
She's managed to raise more than $44,500 (£33,848) in just one day.
Heather explains: "Right now he is in critical condition on a breathing tube; looking to make it but going to be long journey. He was shot five times, once in the elbow, twice in the stomach, and twice in the leg."
The small town of Sutherland Springs is still coming to terms with the worst mass shooting to hit Texas. Twenty-six people died in the massacre, with the shooter later dying after fleeing the scene. It's understood he was shot in the leg and torso by an armed citizen before turning the gun on himself.
Ten of the 20 people injured in the attack remain in critical conditions in hospital.
Speaking from Japan, US President Donald Trump said yesterday the gunman was 'a very deranged individual, [with] a lot of problems'. But he attracted criticism for refusing to let this be the turning point for gun reform in the country.
He told a press conference: "We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries. But this isn't a guns situation. Fortunately, somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction."
"This is a mental health problem at the highest level," he added. "It's a very, very sad event."
Authorities are still trying to work out Kelley's motive and haven't mentioned mental health as a contributing factor yet.