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8 members of single family among 26 killed in Texas church massacre

Published: Monday, November 06, 2017 @ 1:46 PM

VIDEO: Mass Shooting at Texas Church

The deadliest mass shooting in Texas history wiped out eight members of the same family on Sunday, with the killings spanning three generations.

Accused gunman Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs just as associate pastor Bryan Holcombe approached the pulpit, according to the Washington Post. Sutherland Springs is a small community about 30 miles outside of San Antonio.

Holcombe was killed in the spray of rifle fire, his parents, Joe and Claryce Holcombe, told the Post. So was his wife of about 40 years, Karla Holcombe.

One of the couple’s sons, Scott Holcombe, spoke to the New York Times Sunday night as he and his sister, Sarah Slavin, sat outside a hospital emergency room.

“This is unimaginable,” Scott Holcombe, 30, said. “My father was a good man, and he loved to preach. He had a good heart.”

Joe Holcombe told the Post that faith was in his son’s heart from the beginning.

“We knew when he was born, that he was going to be a preacher,” the 86-year-old retired teacher said. “His first word was ‘God.’”

Texas church shooting: Latest news, updates

Bryan Holcombe was filling in Sunday for First Baptist’s head pastor, Frank Pomeroy, who was out of town when the shooting occurred. Pomeroy’s own 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle, was also killed in the gunfire. 

The Post identified the other slain Holcombe family members as:

  • Marc Daniel Holcombe, Bryan and Karla Holcombe’s 36-year-old son;
  • Noah Holcombe, Marc Holcombe’s 1-year-old daughter;
  • Crystal Holcombe, the pregnant wife of another Holcombe son, John Holcombe;
  • Three of Crystal Holcombe’s five children, Emily, Megan and Greg. Her two other children were at the church, but survived the shooting.

John Holcombe, who the Post reported teaches Sunday school at First Baptist, was injured by shrapnel. One of his daughters remained hospitalized Sunday night for injuries she suffered when someone fell on her in the chaos of the shooting.

Joe Holcombe described learning about the shooting from a friend about an hour after it took place. Initially, details of the massacre were scarce.

It was Pomeroy who broke the tragic news, the Post said.

“Bryan and Karla?” Joe Holcombe recalled asking.

“They’re both in heaven,” Pomeroy responded. 

As the day wore on, Joe Holcombe and his wife learned the extent of the shooting’s toll on their family. He said that while the losses will be difficult, as Christians, he and his wife “have read the book.”

“We know the ending, and it’s good,” Joe Holcombe told the Post. “They’re in heaven, and they’re a lot better off than we are.” 

The deceased family members’ various social media profiles offer visitors a blend of church and family. Bryan and Karla Holcombe’s Facebook pages are filled with photos of their children and grandchildren. 

“Grandkids. It doesn’t get any better,” Bryan Holcombe wrote under a photo of 11 of his grandchildren. “I’ll wake up at night and, in prayer, thank God for each of them. 

“It takes a while,” he joked.

Bryan Holcombe’s page also boasts photos of the couple, who were high school sweethearts. In some photos, they are dressed in costume for church events.

In others, Bryan Holcombe strums a ukulele, which relatives said the associate pastor would play, and sing along to, for prison inmates.

Crystal Holcombe, who homeschooled her children, also boasted about her young family online. In a post written the night before she, Emily, Megan and Greg were slain, she praised the girls for their hard work at their first 4-H food show that day, where Megan won a first-place ribbon, and Emily, a third-place ribbon.  

“They’ve worked hard and learned so much. I’m very proud of them both,” Crystal Holcombe wrote. “It was a new experience for them, but they did so well.”

According to posts on her Facebook page, Crystal Holcombe and her children died three days after her family buried her grandfather. 

The Holcombe family members were among 26 people killed, ranging in age from 18 months to 77 years, when Kelley started shooting around 11:20 a.m. Sunday, about 20 minutes into the weekly church service. The shooting began outside, where two of the victims were found, the Times reported

Kelley, wearing all-black tactical gear and armed with a military-style rifle, then went inside.

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The U.S. Air Force veteran, who was court-martialed in 2012 for domestic violence against his wife and child, fired at nearby residents as he left the church, the Times reported. One neighbor fired back with a rifle, apparently striking Kelley before the gunman fled.

Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt said Monday that Kelley called his father from his cellphone while fleeing the church and told him he’d been shot, the Times reported. The armed bystander and another man were chasing Kelley and talking to 911 dispatchers. 

Kelley was later found dead in his vehicle, which he crashed in a neighboring county, the Times said. He had a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but it was not yet clear Monday morning whether he died of the bullet wound or of injuries suffered in the crash. 

Tackitt said Monday that the parents of Kelley’s ex-wife attended First Baptist in Sutherland Springs, though they were not at Sunday’s service. The sheriff described the shooting as a “domestic situation.”

“We know that he had made threatening texts, and we can’t go into detail into that domestic situation that is continuing to be vetted and thoroughly investigated,” Tackitt said, according to the Times

Tennessee State football player arrested after video shows him punching coach, police say

Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 12:04 PM

College Football Player Expelled For Punching Coach

A Tennessee State University football player who was kicked off the team and expelled after he was caught on video punching his assistant coach earlier this month has been arrested in connection with the attack, according to police.

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Jail records show Latrelle Lee, 22, was arrested Monday night. He was charged with one count of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury and released on a $7,500 bond later Monday, according to The Tennessean.

A July 30, 2017, photo provided by Tennessee State University shows college football player Latrelle Lee, a 22-year old defensive end. TSU athletics director Teresa Phillips said Lee was kicked off the team and expelled Monday, Nov. 13, for hitting head strength coach T.J. Greenstone twice in the head, knocking him to the turf on the sideline during a game against Southeast Missouri on Saturday, Nov. 11. (Tennessee State University via AP)(AP)

Police told told WKRN that Lee hit a coach in the face multiple times during a game against Southeast Missouri State University at Hale Stadium. Video of the Nov. 11 incident appeared to show Lee punching Tigers strength coach T.J. Greenstone twice in the head and knocking him to the ground on the sideline.

"Once struck about the face by the defendant, the victim fell to the ground and was dazed and somewhat unconscious from the punches," officers said in an arrest affidavit obtained by The Tennessean. "The victim has subsequently been having medical difficulties as a result from the altercation."

>> Related: Tennessee State player expelled after punching coach on sideline

The attack happened as Greenstone was walking down the sideline to ensure players who weren’t on the field were far enough away to avoid a penalty, The Tennessean reported.

In a statement released to WKRN after the incident, Tennessee State athletics director Teresa Phillps condemned the attack.

“We are committed to supporting the coach who was personally affected and our concern is now with him,” she said.

Police: Man swipes keys off store counter, steals manager's car, guns

Published: Saturday, November 18, 2017 @ 1:05 PM

Superior store manager T. Ginem says a thief stole his car and other valuable merchandise.
Superior store manager T. Ginem says a thief stole his car and other valuable merchandise.(

A business owner was helping a customer when a man grabbed his keys and stole his car and guns Thursday. 

The alleged thief also got away with thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, the manager told

Superior’s store manager, T. Ginem, was helping a customer when the crime took place.

"While our attention was towards the other customers, [the man] reached over the counter and took the keys," Ginem said.

The incident was caught on a security camera. 

On the surveillance video, one of Ginem’s employees is seen walking into the store and setting the car keys on the counter.

Minutes later, a man snags them from the counter and takes off. 

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"He power walked out of here. We didn't realize the vehicle was gone until half an hour later,” Ginem said. 

The man can be seen on outdoor surveillance camera video hopping into the car and speeding off. The manager was not just upset with the car being stolen, he also had thousands of dollars in merchandise taken along with multiple guns.

"I had an AK-47, a 9 mm, and a 40 mm,” Ginem said.

This year, more guns have been stolen from cars than any other location.

According to Memphis Police Department numbers obtained by, in June and July alone, there were more than 100 guns stolen each month in the city.

"[I’m] extremely worried about the guns, man, because you don't want them in the wrong hands,” Ginem said.

A quick crime map of the area surrounding the store revealed eight carjackings and roughly 100 auto thefts in the last two months.

Ginem said multiple people have already told him who committed the theft.

"He just recently got out of jail. He has nothing to lose,” he said.

Memphis police are now trying to make an arrest.

Ginem said he is going to be thinking about the whole ordeal for a while.

"We are looking at least $12,000 [lost], so it is going to hurt my pocket, but it's a lesson learned,” he said. was unable to confirm the suspect’s identity with police but authorities are asking for the public's assistance. Anyone with information about where the man is, or where the stolen items are located, is asked to call police.

Ginem said he is offering a $1,000 reward to the person who leads police to an arrest.

Pittsburgh hospital employee accused of exposing himself to patient

Published: Friday, November 17, 2017 @ 7:18 PM

Patient Accuses Hospital Employee Of Exposing Himself

A food server at a Pittsburgh hospital is accused of exposing himself in front of a patient. 

Police said Michael Booker, 37, a dietary server at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Mercy, approached the female patient at the walking bridge that joins the parking garage and the hospital. 

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WPXI reported that the woman told investigators Booker approached her, said something vulgar and started fondling himself. 

Booker is facing charges that include open lewdness. Officials said he has since been terminated from his position as a server. 

Booker faces a preliminary hearing next month.

Grandma: Toddler who lost mom in shooting keeps waiting for her

Published: Thursday, November 16, 2017 @ 3:48 PM

Grandmother Says Toddler Who Lost Mother Still Waits For Her

­­On Thursday morning, Monique Burston sat in court, bracing herself on the shoulder of a man at her side, and listened to how her daughter died, how a 9mm bullet tore through the 21-year-old’s back in a car on Interstate 20 in DeKalb County, Georgia.

Burston thought of her grandson. Demarko Cade Jr., 2, used to go to the window and wait for his mom to get home from work every day, Burston said. The young mom would load him into the car and they’d just drive, to nowhere in particular.

"He's still sitting by the window,” Burston said. 

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The child’s mother, Airiyuanna Burston, died Oct. 26. She’d been riding in her boyfriend’s Jeep on the interstate in DeKalb County when a gunshot flashed from the back seat, traveling through her seat into her.

When police arrived, they found that the boyfriend’s cousin, Gregory Neal, 22, had been seated behind the victim. 

The cousins made up a story about another driver firing into the car in a fit of road rage. But Neal admitted he’d done the shooting after Detective Krischan Payton told him cops found a shell casing in the floorboard where he’d been sitting, Payton testified Thursday.

After “numerous” interviews, Neal offered to take police back to the scene and show them where he’d hidden the 9mm pistol up an embankment.

Payton said Neal told him the pistol had been laying on the back seat under his backpack. Neal said he moved the backpack and somehow accidentally fired the gun, which police believe.

“It was not an intentional shooting,” the detective said.

Payton said he knew of no animosity between the victim and the shooter.

Monique Burston isn’t convinced it was an accident and said she wants police to investigate further and hear out her theories.

Neal is already facing a felony murder charge. 

Under Georgia law, the crime doesn’t require intent to kill; it only requires that a death occurred while someone committed a felony. In Neal’s case, it was a felony for him to have the gun at all because he has felony convictions from a burglary case, police said.

Before the gun fired, Airiyuanna Burston had been working in a warehouse, was about to start a second job and planned to attend Emory University. She wanted to be a lawyer.

Monique Burston hurts for the lost potential and the loss. She worries about her grandson as he waits by the window in the dark. 

“You can see he's empty,” she said.