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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

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Centerville High School student accused of committing sex crime

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 7:14 AM
Updated: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 6:09 PM

Centerville police say a sexual imposition charge against a 16-year-old boy from Washington Twp. stems from an incident that happened at Centerville High School.

A 16-year-old Washington Twp. boy has been accused of committing a sex crime as a result of an ongoing investigation by Centerville police after an incident alleged to have occurred at Centerville High School.

MORE: Water quality expert: Dayton chemical concerns demand monitoring, attention

John Davis, community relations officer with the Centerville Police Department, confirmed the investigation began May 5 after an incident on the grounds of the high school.

“The suspect and victim are both juveniles, therefore, the details that I can provide are very limited,” Davis said.

MORE: Centerville mom claims autistic son held in a ‘detention room’ size of a closet

The suspect is a Centerville student. The matter is now juvenile court.

School officials said that allegations involving sex crimes are taken seriously and police were notified immediately.

“We cannot go into much detail since the student involved is a juvenile,” said Sarah Swan, community relations specialist for the school district. “There were school consequences for the student, and the police were notified.”

MORE: Some residents upset with Washington Twp. road widening project

We are working to learn more about the case and will update this story.

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Destruction at Miami fraternity house caught on camera

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

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Police were called June 14 on a report of a burglary at the Kappa Alpha Order house, in the 300 block of East Church Street. 

The report was made by a person in charge of the house during the summer school break, who had been notified by the property management firm that oversees the house.

MORE: Baby abandoned in car as man flees from traffic stop

Police were shown video of someone entering the house using the proper combination at 2:30 a.m. on June 2. 

Inside surveillance video showed a man walking around and attempting to turn on the television, according to a police report. When it did not come on, he is seen in the video stabbing the TV with the remote control, causing damage to it, according to the report.

Then, at 2:20 a.m. on June 3, another video shows two men enter the house using the front door combination code and then stuffing the kitchen sink drains with paper towels and turning on the water causing water damage to the floor and some to the downstairs area, according to the report.

One of the two is believed to be the same person from the TV incident the previous night, police said.

Police were told a still shot of the man from the first night was sent to Kappa Alpha members and several replied they believe it to be a person expected to return for his senior year this fall, according to the report.

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Kettering officer-involved shooting: Man shot by officer, weapon recovered

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 9:00 PM
Updated: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 4:31 AM

Shooting

One man was shot and injured in an officer-involved shooting in Dayton Thursday night.

  • Shooting happened at Smithville Rd. and Ewalt Ave. in Dayton
  • Shooting happened after Kettering officer initiated traffic stop
  • Passenger shot, driver in custody

A Kettering police officer tried to pull over a vehicle at Smithville Road and Ewalt Avenue Thursday night. Within one minute, at 8:45 p.m., the officer reported shots fired and an officer needs assistance call was issued to surrounding agencies, according to a release issued late Thursday by the Kettering Police Department.

>> DASH CAM: Man shot, injured by Dayton officer ID’d

“We can confirm a Kettering officer was involved in an officer-involved shooting as a result of this traffic stop. No further details are being released at this time,” Kettering police Lt. Michael Gabrielson stated in the release.

The traffic stop was initiated in Kettering, but the shooting happened in the city of Dayton.

“A passenger fled. There was an altercation about a block down the street and a Kettering officer fired at the suspect, wounding him,” Dayton Assistant Police Chief and Deputy Director Mark Ecton said.

The driver is in custody, he said.

It’s not clear how many shots were fired, nor whether the suspect fired at the officer but a weapon was recovered, Ecton said.

>> WATCH: Police shocked during scuffle in Dayton, officers injured

The Dayton Police Department is investigating the shooting because it happened in the city, and the Kettering Police Department also is conducting its own investigation.

(MICHAEL BURIANEK / STAFF)

The man was transported to a local hospital. We’re working to learn more on his condition. The officer was not injured.

>> No criminal charges for Miami Twp. officer in 2017 fatal shooting

It’s not confirmed whether the incident was connected to a hit-and-run crash nearby.

Nick Kauffman of Kettering said he was on his way to a motorcycle ride when his path was blocked by all the police activity.

“It’s pretty wild. You don’t expect to see this stuff outside your back door,” he said.

There were officers from at least three police forces.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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Retired Troy firefighter, and now a co-defendant, accused in rape case

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 7:08 PM
Updated: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 10:50 AM

Retired Troy firefighter arrested for rape, son arrested hours later

UPDATE @ 10:20 a.m. (June 22): A retired Troy firefighter and a co-defendant remain in jail on a rape charge, while the former firefighter's son also remains in jail on a weapons charge. 

Jeffrey Paul Covault, 48, had his bond set at $200,000 cash on a single count of rape. His plea of not guilty was taken this morning. 

Thomas Perkins Jr., 54, identified as a co-defendant in the rape case, had his bond set at $200,000 as well. According to authorities, Perkins worked for Jeffrey Paul Covault's lawn care business. 

Aaron Jacob Covault, 24, had his bond set at $22,000 cash during his court appearance via video in Miami County Municipal Court. 

He is detained in the Miami County Jail on charges of weapon possession as a felon (a felony) and weapons possession while intoxicated (a misdemeanor).

Aaron Jacob Covault, left, and Jeffrey Paul Covault

The elder Covault and Perkins are accused of engaging in sexual conduct with an intoxicated 21-year-old woman on March 2, in the parking lot of The Vault, on North County Road 25A, county Prosecutor Tony Kendell said. According to the indictment, the victim was impaired because of a mental or physical condition and the alleged perpetrators had cause of know of that impairment.

Common Pleas Judge Christopher Gee issued a “no contact order” for the elder Covault and Perkins, meaning they are to have no contact with the alleged victim or with each other.

The elder Covault worked as a Troy firefighter/paramedic from May 1996 until he retired April 1, according to city personnel records.

A criminal records check shows he has been convicted for operating a vehicle under the influence in 2011 and for disorderly conduct in 2012.

The father and son were arrested hours apart Thursday from the same home, a residence in the 700 block of County Road 25A, north of Troy.

Aaron Jacob Covault, was arrested at the same address hours after his father was taken into custody. Police said the younger Covault was upset over the arrest of his father and discharged a gun.

>> TRENDING: Kettering officer-involved shooting: Man shot by officer, gun recovered

There were no report of injuries.

>> Suspect in Seattle homicide arrested in raid in Dayton

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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