National Response to Mass Shootings at Center of Sutherland Springs Pastor's Decision to Seek Office

Frank Pomeroy is the pastor at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, where a gunman shot and killed 26 people in November 2017

There is a new First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. It opened in May -- 18 months after 26 people were killed in a mass shooting at the church.

“We are just moving forward. We are growing. Rather than just existing, we are living," First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs Pastor Frank Pomeroy said.

Pomeroy, who lost his daughter in the shooting, is moving forward too -- but in a different direction. The political arena.

"When I saw the way I felt like those people were treated El Paso, then Midland-Odessa and Dayton, Ohio, those were the ones that really grabbed my attention," Pomeroy said. "I surrounded myself with people of prayer, I felt like God was leading me into this at that point. Still didn't want to go, and I just felt like this is what I am supposed to do now."

Pomeroy said he felt in Sutherland Springs, the focus after the shooting was on the people.

"We chose to focus on what is best for the community. Let's lock arms. Let's heal," he said.

He said he though the discussion around mass shootings since Sutherland Springs has turned too quickly to politics and the Second Amendment. Pomeroy pointed specifically to the what former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke said after the shooting in his hometown of El Paso.

"He just immediately took it as, 'OK, because of this shooting thing we are going to have to go and take everybody's firearms away from them,'" Pomeroy said. "Whether that opinion is valid or not doesn't change. Those first two weeks should not have been about politics to me. They should have been reaching and what can we do for these people."

Pomeroy said he remained a strong Second Amendment proponent.

"It did not change my thinking at all on Second Amendment rights. I am glad that we had what's kind of notoriously been titled the, 'Good guy with the gun,' to stop the shooting before it got worse," he said.

Pomeroy will have the next year to expand on all of his positions in depth.

It will be an uphill battle in District 21 against State Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo). She has served in the legislature more than 30 years.

"Win, lose or draw, I am doing this to draw attention back to the people rather than just the reelection process," Pomeroy said.

Zaffirini issued the following statement Monday.

“Having been in Sutherland Springs recently, I'm sensitive to the needs and feelings of the survivors, the loved ones of those who were killed, and the many friends and family members who are still hurting from this horrific tragedy. As their state senator I strongly support their community and their efforts to cope and to heal.

Because I was on campus when a sniper went on a killing rampage at the UT tower in 1966, I know they never will forget the sounds and sights that horrified them that day. Those dreadful memories are with me still, as I know they will be with them forever.

What they need now is much love, extensive support, and continuous prayers. Coupled with their deep faith, these acts of caring and compassion can strengthen the families of Sutherland Springs. My prayer is that the Lord will bless them and inspire them to treasure the rich memories of their loved ones and of happier days.

Out of respect for their suffering and circumstances, I prefer not to mix a discussion of the campaign with the memories associated with the second anniversary of this unspeakable action at a place of worship. Under no circumstances do I want to highlight my candidacy as they grieve.

The election is a year away, and I will campaign at the appropriate time. Meanwhile, I will focus on my duties as the state senator for District 21 and will do everything possible to continue to help provide a better future for them and all families I represent.”

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