A pastor in Texas who lost his daughter, as well as 26 members of his congregation in a 2017 mass shooting, has announced his candidacy for the Texas Senate.
Frank Pomeroy, who leads the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church, declared his intention to challenge 32-year incumbent, Democrat Judith Zaffirini. Pomery will run as a Republican in District 21, which includes much of Austin and the Rio Grande Valley. The district has been solidly Democratic for years.
“If I can bring civility and godliness and help stymie the downward spiraling of the great state of Texas, that’s what I’m choosing to try to do,” Pomeroy said Sunday afternoon to his congregation. “I feel as though that morality and integrity is disappearing rapidly and I feel as though the direction Texas goes — if Texas falls, the country falls.”
Pomeroy’s 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle, was among the 26 killed during the shooting on Nov. 5, 2017. Pomeroy and his wife were out of town in Oklahoma and had left the church service in the hands of visiting pastor Bryan Holcombe, who was killed in the attack. Eight of Holcombe’s family members died as well, including an unborn baby. Pomeroy said Annabelle “was one very beautiful special child.”
The gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley, opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle shortly after church service began. He left 26 dead and wounded an additional 20 people before being fired upon by Stephen Willeford, a neighbor of the church and former NRA instructor. Willeford struck Kelley twice as he fled in his SUV, then pursued him in another car, armed with an AR-15. Kelley confessed to his wife over the phone that he had been responsible for the deadly attack, then crashed his car and shot himself in the head.
Kelley had been convicted of domestic assault and had several complaints against his mental health. He did not possess his rifle legally at the time of the shooting.
The attack remains the deadliest attack on a place of worship in American history, and one of the deadliest attacks ever in Texas. Pomery admitted to his congregation on Sunday that he was a political novice. “This is totally out of my wheelhouse,” the bereaved pastor said. “But I’m totally trusting the Lord to show me how to do the things I need to do.”