Students seek hope after church shooting
Shooter found dead after killing over two dozen people in Sutherland Springs, Texas. | Photo Illustration by Thecla Li
Students wrestle with questions of fear and faith in the aftermath of a shooting at a Texas church, which left 26 people dead, including at least 12 children, on Sunday.
AUTHORITIES INVESTIGATE SHOOTING
The gunman, a 26-year old named Devin Kelley, entered the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs with a rifle and began shooting, according to the BBC. He then fled the scene, pursued by an armed civilian who shot him twice. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to CNN. Investigators do not know why Kelley committed the shooting, but have suggested his hostile relationship with his relatives, who attended the church, as a factor, according to the Washington Post.
Kelley received a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force after a court-martial convicted him of domestic assault against his wife and stepson, according to the Washington Post. Kelley’s conviction should have prevented him from purchasing a firearm, but the Air Force failed to enter his criminal information into the national database.
Freshman human biology major Sara Robinson believes students should remain firm and unafraid in the wake of the shooting, encouraged by God’s power.
“Things like this definitely cause me to be a little fearful, but we have a God who is so much bigger than this and makes beauty out of these things, and we need to recognize the evil in this and call it out, but not walk around being afraid of that evil,” Robinson said.
RESPONDING THROUGH COMMUNITY
Freshman public relations major Katie Bean heard of the shooting while in a leadership meeting at her church. As the congregation began to pray, Bean wondered when someone with a gun would walk through their church doors.
“I think it’s really healthy to feel a little shaken up and to feel worried, but I also think it’s really necessary to understand that it’s a way for us, as Christian brothers and sisters, to link arms and grow stronger in our faith… and to be a support greater than what we were originally,” Bean said.
Sophomore engineering physics major Elijah Reeves also believes students should reach out to those affected, whether on campus or in Texas.
“I think one thing we can do is, if there is anybody on campus that has anybody related to them in Texas, just pray for them and comfort them in any way possible,” Reeves said. “And then try to go above and beyond and do something for those who are in Texas and was affected by the shooter.”
While the event has spawned fear, including to those at Biola, Robinson believes students must hold onto their hope.
“Moments like these make us very, very aware of the presence of evil in our world,” Robinson said. “But [we can have] that hope that, ultimately, God is a God of justice.”