Pastor Frank Pomeroy's 14-year-old daughter Annabelle Renee was one of the 25 people killed in the Sutherland Springs church shooting

By Karen Mizoguchi
November 22, 2017 09:05 PM
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A Texas father will spend his first holiday season without his daughter after she was killed in the Nov. 5 mass shooting at First Baptish Church in Sutherland Springs where he serves as pastor.

“It is hard to cope right now,” Pastor Frank Pomeroy – whose 14-year-old Annabelle Renee was one of the 25 people killed in the massacre – tearfully told NBC News.

“But I know Annabelle would have still wanted that Christmas music on. She would want the holidays to proceed — it was her favorite time of the year,” Pomeroy said as he recalled changing the radio to his daughter’s favorite Christmas station.

Frank Pomeroy and daughter Annabelle
Pastor Frank Pomeroy and 14-year-old daughter Annabelle

“Is it going to be difficult? Yes, but you know what? I am celebrating this great country that God has blessed us with on Thanksgiving, and also celebrating the birth of the savior at Christmas,” the grieving father added.

Though he attempts to find holiday cheer, it comes during a difficult time as he only just finished conducting and attending funerals for each of the victims, which also included an unborn child .

“It’s surreal in the aspect that it’s not the church it was to me before, but it’s still God’s house,” Pomeroy said about the church that was reborn into a memorial for the victims. “I would hope no pastor has to go through the process of 26 funerals in a week.”

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Credit: Facebook

Pomeroy was returning from Oklahoma and his wife Sherri was in North Carolina when the shooting broke out. The gunman, 26-year-old disgraced former Air Force member Devin Kelley, was killed after a brief chase into neighboring Guadalupe County, Texas.

Authorities said Kelley’s attack stemmed from a domestic dispute, and that he had sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law, who attended the church.

Just a week prior to the horrific incident, Pomeroy recalled having multiple conversations with Kelley and seeing him at the church’s fall festival.

“To be quite honest, I wouldn’t have thought he would have the courage to try to do something like that,” Pomeroy told NBC News. “He was not someone I put much faith or respect into even as a human being — much less as a man. He was just a very spiteful person.”

Since the Nov. 5 shooting, surviving members of the church held ceremonies and services during which they were joined by hundreds of others mourners to honor those lives lost.