Sutherland Springs Church massacre survivors witness unseen scars at federal trial in San Antonio


Depression. PTSD. The inability to have children.

Nearly four years after the mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, survivors testified Wednesday about the invisible scars left by the gunman. Some have received advice; others still go.

The testimony is coming in a lawsuit to determine how much the Air Force should pay to compensate the 26 survivors and the families of the 22 people who were killed on November 5, 2017. The Air Force had not ensured that the The shooter’s criminal convictions were in a federal database that could have prevented him from legally purchasing firearms.

Witnesses for the plaintiffs gave separate views on what they saw inside the church as gunman Devin Kelley entered and opened fire with an assault rifle.

Stories sometimes come out in the midst of a mixture of emotions or tears.

“I heard gunshots and I heard screams,” said Kris Workman, who was shot in the back and was paralyzed from waist to toe. “I stayed on the ground. I thought my best chance to survive was to pretend to be dead.

He testified much of the afternoon about the grueling pain not only of the shooting, but also of the surgery and the weeks of recovery that followed, and how his life and the lives of others were changed. for ever.

His brother, Kyle Workman, now drives the stock car Kris drove because Kris can’t get in it. Kyle now takes care of Kris’ cattle because Kris can’t do it anymore. Kris was an avid tennis player.

Kyle, who was not shot but injured himself by hitting a doorframe as he rushed to escape the shooting, said he still had vivid memories whenever he heard loud noises.

“I freeze,” Workman said. “My thought flies away. … I remain silent, stare into space and think about everything that has happened.

Kyle’s wife Morgan Harris was in a sound booth when the shooter entered and fired. Harris suffered shrapnel wounds in one leg and throughout his body. Prior to filming, she was teaching martial arts, going out to dance with then-boyfriend Kyle Workman, and otherwise in good health.

Now she has a condition called drop foot. The difficulty in lifting the anterior part of the foot left her with a gait that she did not have before. She must wear a special brace or walk with a cane or cane. Teaching martial arts is out of the question, she said.

She tried all of the medical advice, tried the recommended treatments and devices, but her foot drop didn’t go away.

“It makes me feel broken,” Harris said. “It makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong and not healing properly.”

Beyond that, she ended up with a high level of lead in her body, and a doctor advised her not to conceive due to the potential risks to her and her child. She asked for second, third and fourth opinions. All the doctors agreed that she shouldn’t have children.

“It’s really horrible,” Harris said. “Kyle and I always talked about kids, but we knew it would be in the future. It has always been in our plan. Knowing that I am the reason it is not possible is a huge burden on my shoulders.

Kelley committed suicide after being shot and kicked out of town by two local residents.

In July, U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez said the Air Force was 60 percent responsible for failing to report to an FBI database that Kelley pleaded guilty to domestic violence. The judge found Kelley 40 percent responsible. Reporting Kelley could have prevented her from legally purchasing any guns, including the assault rifle used in the church massacre, the judge said.

The trial is expected to last until next week. | Twitter: @gmaninfedland

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