As federal investigators search for a motive in the assault by a student who murdered eight of his classmates and two teachers, and wounded 13 others, the first funeral service for one of the victims — an exchange student from Pakistan — was set for later in the afternoon.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott attended a service at the Arcadia First Baptist Church just down the road from Santa Fe High School, where students and residents have placed flowers, messages and stuffed animals in honor of those who died there.
“We’re here to support you,” Abbott told members of the congregation in exchanges before the service.
“Anything you guys need, let us know. God bless you.”
Abbott took time to talk with and hug several survivors of the shooting, and parents, and urged them to remain strong.
“I’m just glad he wants to worship together (with us.) It’s important that after a tragic event like this we just come together and worship,” said Santa Fe 10th grader Joshua Stevens, 15.
As services began, interim Pastor Jerald Watkins offered prayers to the roughly 500 congregants.
“Lord, sometimes we forget you’re even here,” he said, as worshippers bowed their heads and nodded.
“It’s time like this when all of us realize how fragile our lives really are.”