Before five bullets pierced Ryland Ward's tiny body, leaving him in critical but stable condition, the 5-year-old spent Sunday morning with his three sisters and stepmother worshiping at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.
His stepmother, Joann Ward, and sister Brooke, also 5, died at the scene.
When Ryland’s uncle Michael Ward carried him out of First Baptist Church after the shooting stopped, he told The Dallas Morning News that his nephew was alive and awake, but he wasn’t talking.
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A helicopter flew Ryland to University Hospital in San Antonio, where Ryland’s father, Chris Ward; his grandmother Sandy Ward; and his sister Rihanna, 9, gathered to pray for him.
As Ryland went through surgery, doctors told the family they were unable to save his sister Emily, who was just a few years older than Ryland.