Exclusive: Former pastor at Texas First Baptist Church grieves from Wisconsin
MOUNT PLEASANT, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A former associate pastor of the First Baptist Church is still in shock.
"They were showing the front of the church, and I saw those two doors. I just shivered. I just couldn't believe it. I just got chills down my spine thinking about the hundreds of times my family walked through that door," said Porter.
After retiring, Shawn Porter moved to Wisconsin. Porter was the associate pastor at the church from 1987-2000. He now lives in Mount Pleasant and says he first heard about what happened on the radio, and after he heard about the shooting he has been watching the news in hopes his family and friends have survived.
"The main thing I was listening for was any names -- see anybody that I might know that they were interviewing," said Porter.
Porter first recognized the pastor and his wife.
"We've had a long night with our children and grandbabies we have left..." Pastor Frank Pomero trailed off into tears while addressing the media. He is the current pastor of the First Baptist Church. His wife Sherri finished his statement.
"We were a very close family. We ate together, we laughed together, we cried together, and we worshiped together," said Sherri Pomeroy.
The pastor's 14-year-old daughter was 1 of 26 killed at the church. The couple was out of town.
A shadow is now cast on Porter's fond memories.
"We'd usually sit in the first or second pew. It was the same all the time. The Holcombe's would sit over to the left side," said Porter.
Eight members of the Holcombe family were killed in the church, and some are in the hospital. Their family put up this GoFundMe page Sunday: https://www.gofundme.com/texasshootingfamily
"They got up, got ready, put their Sunday best on, went down the street to the little church not knowing they'd never get to go back home again. That's the hard part to take," said Porter.
Porter says he didn't know of the gunman, but he did know his grandmother-in-law, Lula White, who was killed in the shooting. He says she did a lot for the youth in the church.
"She was very much involved with the children's portion of the church. I remember she had a Sunday school class and my two boys were in her class and just loved her," said Porter.
Porter says he plans to visit the town soon.
"...go out and visit out there, talk to the pastor, and see who's left."
In the meantime, he has an idea of what the church will be preaching.
"Just pray that we can try to understand God's side of this thing. We can't we can't know precisely what the plan is."