Sutherland Springs: God, Guns and Hope in a Texas Town

Joe Holley. Hachette, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-45115-4
Journalist Holley (Hurricane Season) delivers an extraordinarily intimate account of the 2017 mass shooting that killed 26 parishioners (including an unborn child) at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex. He profiles survivors including Sunday School teacher David Colbath, who was shot eight times and still has a bullet lodged near his heart, and details gunman Devin Patrick Kelley’s visit to the church’s annual Fall Fest days before the shooting. Holley’s harrowing description of the massacre includes the recollection of a nurse who tied tourniquets for the wounded and later told her husband that she had “felt a presence in the church” and “watched souls go home.” Congregants say the shooting hasn’t shaken their faith in God, and most remain firearms enthusiasts, though Holley notes some dissent within the church over stricter gun control measures as well as ongoing lawsuits against the U.S. Air Force (which failed to properly register Kelley’s court-martial conviction with the FBI) and the sporting goods store where he bought the assault rifle used in the shooting. Holley’s decision to conclude with a strong antigun argument strikes an off-note in a book that is otherwise deeply respectful of its subjects’ viewpoints. Nevertheless, this empathetic, finely wrought chronicle offers a revealing window into an ongoing national tragedy. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/16/2020
Release date: 03/17/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-5709-7
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