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Wilson County Locals Struggle To Cope After Church Massacre

Lynda Gonzalez for KUT
In the small rural community, the mass shooting has affected everyone.

From Texas Standard.

Sutherland Springs, southeast of San Antonio, has been as quiet as any of the other small communities that dot the landscape of Wilson County. The shooting that took place on Sunday at the First Baptist Church has shocked each one of them.

Nannette Kilbey-Smith, the editor of the Wilson County News and the La Vernia News, says Wilson County is a tight-knit part of rural America with a large veteran community.

“Many of the families are generations in the area,” she says. “Sutherland Springs is not a wealthy community by any means and it’s not got a lot of business. The church is one of the focal points in the community building.”

Kilbey-Smith says that the members of the church in Sutherland Springs are particularly close.

“They are a small congregation but they’re faith family,” she says. “They’re not just a church family. They all feel very much connected and this is very hard for every single one of them and all of us who know them.”

Kilbey-Smith says her goal is to report on the massacre while also respecting the families.

“We’re trying to actually provide what facts we can, as fast as we can, but also as sympathetically as possible because we know this has just devastated everyone around here,” she says. “We’ve got grief counselors at all the local schools. They’re being made available in community venues and churches, as well, simply because something of this magnitude just doesn’t happen here and we don’t know how to cope.”

Written by Jen Rice.

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