Mother and Son Survivors Reflect on 1 Year Since Sutherland Springs Shooting

On November 5, 2017, a gunman walked into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and killed 26 members of Julie Workman’s church family, including an unborn child.

“As it gets closer to the anniversary, things kind try to creep up on you,” said Workman. “We look to God and we look to his word and his promises. We try to keep those in perspective.”

Workman was sitting in the second row of the church as her friend, Karla Holcombe read announcements, when the gunman came in shooting.

When it was over, Workman, a nurse, began looking for people she could help.

“God prepared me for that day,” said Workman. “My brain went into triage mode.”

She started at the front with Karla, remembering that she took Karla’s pulse three times before realizing she’d died.

“I moved row-by-row and the first seven people were dead,” said Workman.

When she found a child, who was murdered, she stopped and screamed.

Workman says another church member who was injured shouted to her to keep working, as if she was in battle.

“He hollered at me that this day didn’t take God by surprise,” said Workman.

She found towels and made tourniquets to help stop the blood loss in some of the most baldy injured congregants. She called her husband, a former fire chief, to come help.

Workman was in church that day with her two adult sons. One of them was on the ground, she asked him if he was OK.

“He looked at me and said, ‘Yes, I can't feel my legs.”

Kris Workman, a married father of a young daughter, spent weeks in the hospital and at a rehab facility. Doctors don’t believe he will walk again.

“They told me that my spinal cord was nearly completely severed,” explained Workman. 

In spite of daily neuropathic pain and with intense physical therapy, he has made some progress. He’s able to move each leg slightly, doing more than doctors thought was possible.

“Me sitting and sulking and being depressed is not going to help me, it’s not going to help anybody else so to me why do it?” said Workman. “It sounds idealistic and easy when you say it but, that’s the way I wake up every morning and say what I’ve got to do is go out and give it my best.”

Workman went back to work in the spring and earlier this fall, regained some independence with an adaptive van that allows him to drive himself.

He is working toward the goal of walking again, but believes if he never does, it’s for a reason.

“Losing the loss of my legs is a small price to pay to see people all over the world, hearing our story and potentially establishing a relationship with Christ or strengthening their relationship,” said Workman. “It’s totally worth it.”

“Emotionally , it’s very hard to hear him say, ‘If this is what God needed to do and needed my legs to bring one person to Christ, it's worth it. Mom still wants to stand back and go nope!” said Julie Workman. “I’m coming to terms with that comment. I’m very proud of how he tells his story.”

Workman says she is a survivor of cancer and child abuse and that all the difficulties before last November 5th prepared her for the last year.

In addition to her faith, Workman says she’s regularly gone to counseling. She hopes others who need help will see her story and find someone to talk to.

“Our Lord says that if he’s going to take us to something, he’s going to take us through it,” said Workman. “Even if that means he has to carry us. We hang onto those promises and move forward.”

“He [Kris] does have set as a goal to walk again, someday God-willing,” said Workman. “If it doesn’t happen here on earth, we know that on the side of heaven and eternity he will be whole and will walk again. And, we’re OK with that.”

Contact Us