SUTHERLAND SPRINGS — Two silver hearses carrying the bodies of a coupleat a Texas church were followed by a long procession of vehicles Saturday that avoided passing the small church where more than two dozen people died.
Mourners instead drove around the tiny community of Sutherland Springs before reaching a cemetery on the edge of town, where dozens more vehicles waited along a rural road for the private burial of Therese and Richard Rodriguez. Sheriff’s SUVs shielded mourners at the cemetery’s three entrances.
The services for the recently retired couple followed a ceremony earlier in the day where about 100 people gathered to commemorate Veterans Day and to honor the shooting victims, nearly half of whom had ties to the Air Force.
“Maybe this will start the healing process that will get Sutherland Springs and Wilson County to put this horrific tragedy behind us and look to the future,” county Judge Richard Jackson, his voice breaking, told the crowd, which included first responders and law enforcement officers.
Jackson, the county’s top administrator, thanked the first responders and others who rushed to First Baptist Church in the aftermath of Sunday’s shooting. What they saw there will affect them the rest of their lives, Jackson said during the ceremony outside the town’s community center, where a wreath was placed near flags to remember those killed.
— authorities put the number at 26 because one was pregnant — and wounded about 20 others. The gunman died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound after being shot and who heard gunfire from the church.
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