A five-year old boy was found clinging to a church pew after his mother and two sisters were shot dead in front of him during the latest massacre in Texas.
Ryland Ward was found in the First Baptist Church in Texas by his aunt shortly after Devin Patrick Kelley burst in, killing 26 people.
The boy’s mother, Joann Ward, and her daughters, Brooke Ward, 5, and Emily Garza, 7, were killed.
Ryland was shot four times in his stomach, groin and arm but survived. He is reportedly in a stable condition in a San Antonio hospital.
His nine-year-old sister, Rihanna, also survived, despite having her glasses shot off her face.
The children’s aunt, Leslie Ward, told the New York Daily News that she ran to the church in Sutherland Springs after hearing gunfire from her house a few blocks away.
“I found my nephew in the front, in pain. It was bad. There was just dead bodies everywhere. It wasn’t what I wanted to see but at the time, I wasn’t worried about it. I was worried about finding my family,” she said.
His uncle, Michael Ward, told the Dallas Morning News that he had been worried the five-year-old was “not going to make it” after he carried his nephew out of the church and the boy was airlifted to hospital.
“Ryland is the only one left,” he said.
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The child’s father, Chris Ward, reportedly ran towards the church without his shoes after being told about the shooting.
The shooter, a former Bible study teacher, had entered the church in combat gear and started firing at the congregation.
It emerged that he had been dishonourably charged from the US Air Force after he assaulted his wife and child.
Kelley was shot through a gap in his body armour by local man Stephen Willieford. The shooter reportedly killed himself after the attack.
A total of 26 people have been killed, but the death toll is expected to climb. Around 50 people normally attend the Sunday service.
The teenage daughter of the pastor was shot dead, as well as a two-year-old child and a pregnant woman.
Multiple victims are currently in hospital, authorities said.