Texas Church Shooting: Long Road to Recovery for Wounded 5-Year-Old Boy

by Kalhan Rosenblatt /  / Updated 
Image: Ryland Ward
Ryland Ward, 5, was injured in the Sutherland Springs church shooting.

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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.

Image: Ryland Ward
Ryland Ward, 5, was injured in the Sutherland Springs church shooting.

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.

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.

Related: Texas Church Shooter Had ‘a Purpose and a Mission’ in Family Feud, Investigator Says

“We’re just waiting to find out what’s going to happen with my grandson,” Sandy Ward told MSNBC on Sunday.

Sandy said her son was trying to cope with the loss of all but one of his young family.

"He's a wreck, of course, as you can imagine," she said. "I'm just in shock."

A GoFundMe, set up by Heather Bradley, a cousin of the Ward family, said Ryland was shot twice in the stomach, twice in the leg and once in the elbow.

Related: Mass Public Shootings Are Getting Deadlier, Experts Say

As of Tuesday morning, the GoFundMe had raised more than $45,000 for Ryland.

Hours later, he emerged in stable condition, according to his aunt Harley Mcmahan. Bradley wrote that Ryland’s recovery would be a long journey.

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