Three thousand mourners attended the Wednesday funeral for eight members of the Holcombe family killed in the Sutherland Springs church shooting.
The crowd of thousands mourned together for the fallen family members at an events center in Floresville, Texas before a smaller crowd proceeded to a graveside service where they gathered around the mutli-colored coffins and released light blue and pink balloons in their honor, according to the Associated Press. Hundreds more tried to join the mourners at the events center but were turned away by fire marshals.
John Holcombe, who survived the shooting, invited the public to join the funeral services. John, along with two children from his wife’s previous marriage, Evelyn and Phillip, and his sister, Sarah Holcombe, survived. His pregnant wife, Crystal, their unborn child, three children from Crystal’s previous marriage – Greg, Emily, and Megan Hill – his brother Marc, Marc’s 18-month-old daughter Noah, and his parents, Bryan and Karla died.
John wrote in an earlier Facebook post that while it was too early to tell whether his and Crystal’s unborn child was a boy or a girl, they had come up with a name in either case.
Bryan was a guest pastor on the day of the shooting. The shooter killed Bryan first, shooting him in the back as he made his way up the aisle to the altar, beginning what would be the worst church shooting in U.S. history and the worst mass shooting in Texas history. The shooter killed members from three generations of the Holcombe family, comprising a third of the 26 church congregants he killed in the ensuing massacre, and targeted children crying out for help and those attempting to take cover before he was stopped and pursued to his death by Stephen Willeford.
Friends of the family set up a GoFundMe account in Sarah’s name to help ease the burden of funeral costs for her 9 family members, to include John and Crystal’s unborn child, and Sarah’s closest friend, Tara, and other expenses in the aftermath of the tragedy.