TEXAS - A mother who used herself as a shield to try to protect her four young children when a gunman opened fire inside a Texas church on Sunday lost her life but helped save her 5-year-old son and one of her daughters.
Joann Ward pushed her 9-year-old daughter Rihanna to the floor when a gunman sprayed shots inside First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, then embraced her three other children, according to an account of her response shared by a family friend on Facebook.
"I didn't get shot because I was hiding, and Momma covered Emily, Ryland & Brooke," Rihanna recounted, according to the post by the family friend, Vonda Greek Smith.
Twenty-six churchgoers were killed in the shooting. Joann Ward and daughter Brooke, 5, were among those who died at the scene. Ward's daughter Emily, 7, died at the hospital.
Son Ryland, 5, was shot five times and was in critical condition after surgery, according to a GoFundMe page set up by a relative, Heather Bradley, to raise money for the family.