Couple Murdered in Church Was ‘as Close to a True Life of Christ as You Could Get’

Karla Holcombe was a mother of four who taught Sunday school classes and volunteered at a prison. Bryan was preaching when he was cut down.

Brown Family

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas—One of the first victims of a church massacre outside San Antonio to be publicly identified is Karla Holcombe, a family friend told The Daily Beast.

Holcombe was among 26 people killed when a gunman opened fire at First Baptist Church Sutherland Springs on Sunday morning in the worst mass murder in Texas history. Among those killed were the church pastor’s 14-year-old daughter, children as young as 5, and adults as old as 72.

Holcombe was in church with her husband of more than 25 years, Bryan, who was preaching in place of the pastor who was out of town. Bryan, along with the couple’s daughter-in-law Chrystal, and three of Chrystal’s children with their son John, were also among the dead. Chrystal was reported to be eight months pregnant. Two of her children survived the attack.

“We loved Karla and Karla loved us,” said Jenna Brown, who knew Holcombe from their days at nearby First Baptist Church Floresville. “I cannot believe this happened.”

Brown said Holcombe—a mother of four and grandmother—was a generous and loving person who at one point volunteered at a prison and taught Sunday school classes. The last time Brown last saw Holcombe was on Halloween last Tuesday during a “fall festival” hosted by First Baptist Church Sutherland Springs.

“She was joking and just as happy as always,” Brown said.

The Holcombes owned and operated a canvas repair shop in nearby Floresville, Texas for several years before their retirement.

“They really were loving people,” Brown said. “They were about as close to a true life of Christ as you could get.”