Mother Killed While Shielding Her 4 Children in Texas Church Shooting

Aunt recalls finding family shot after massacre
November 7, 2017 Updated: November 7, 2017    

A mother who used herself as a shield to try to protect her four young children when a gunman opened fire inside a Texas church on Sunday lost her life but helped save her 5-year-old son and one of her daughters.

Joann Ward pushed her 9-year-old daughter Rihanna to the floor when a gunman sprayed shots inside First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, then embraced her three other children, according to an account of her response shared by a family friend on Facebook.

Joann Ward, a victim of the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. is seen in this photo obtained November 6, 2017. Social media/Handout via REUTERS.
 “I didn’t get shot because I was hiding, and Momma covered Emily, Ryland & Brooke,” Rihanna recounted, according to the post by the family friend, Vonda Greek Smith.

Twenty-six churchgoers were killed in the shooting. Joann Ward and daughter Brooke, 5, were among those who died at the scene. Ward’s daughter Emily, 7, died at the hospital.

State troopers guard the entrance to the First Baptist Church (back) after a mass shooting that killed 26 people in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 6, 2017. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
State troopers guard the entrance to the First Baptist Church (back) after a mass shooting that killed 26 people in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 6, 2017. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)