Sutherland Springs is still healing after the horrific church shooting that took 26 lives last year.
Today, the final victim recovering in the hospital, a six-year-old boy, got to ride home in style. “He wanted to go faster. He wanted the siren to be louder and he wanted me to honk more,” said Stockdale Assistant Fire Chief Rusty Duncan.
Duncan says his six-year-old buddy Ryland Ward loved every minute of his ride home from the hospital in a big fire truck. And the community came out to say “welcome home Ryland.”
“Hopefully we’ll all heal and that we can learn that God is Love and Jesus is more powerful than hate,” said Richard Pederson who drove about 60 miles to get to Sutherland Springs.
“I’m here because I’m glad that little Ryland’s coming home. You know it’s...bless his heart he lost almost all of his family. So I’m happy for him even though I’m crying, I’m happy he’s coming home,” said Del Bauer who lives near Sutherland Springs.
Ryland was shot 5 times on a Sunday morning sitting with his family at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. Duncan was one of the first to go inside the church...not knowing what he’d find inside. “I went in and looked around, went up and down the aisles and when I came back he was on the ground under his mom and I felt a little tug on my pant leg, he was holding on to it,” Duncan said.
Duncan carried him out as quickly as he could and since the shooting he’s visited him at a San Antonio hospital on Sunday’s. “We had a special bond. It was different with me and him. From the time I saw his eyes looking up at me inside the church, the whole time his eyes were open looking up at me laying on the ground to the minute I saw him for the first time at the hospital. We just had a connection,” Duncan said.
While visiting him in the hospital, Ryland told Duncan he wanted to ride in his fire truck.
Duncan said he would make that happen as soon as his doctor said it was ok. He kept that promise. “I’m happy that he can start his life being a normal 6-year-old little boy along with his sister and cousins so I think he’s ready for that,” Duncan said.
Ryland lost three of his relatives in the shooting. Duncan says he’s not going anywhere. He told six-year-old Ryland that whenever he needs him he’s just a phone call away.