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A month after massacre, heartache and hope: Why this local story on Sutherland Springs is a must read

A month after massacre, heartache and hope: Why this local story on Sutherland Springs is a must read

Hopeful. Sensitive. Nuanced.

What we have here is one more example — past ones here and here — of the importance of local newspapers in reporting local news, even if that news happens to make national headlines, too.

I'm talking about the San Antonio Express-News' exceptional story on how victims of the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church massacre are doing one month after the tragedy that claimed 26 lives.

The headline, "A month after church massacre, faith and healing in Sutherland Springs," accurately reflects both the content and the tone of the piece.

As a reader, I felt like the reporter took me inside the lives of the still-grieving families who lost loved ones at the First Baptist Church on Nov. 5 — but without intruding on them. 

The powerful opening paragraphs:

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS — Frank Pomeroy pauses outside his daughter’s room, unable to enter. He knows what’s inside: Annabelle’s bed, her One Direction poster and various items in shades of purple — her favorite color.
But Pomeroy and his wife, Sherri, can’t look in her room yet. It reminds them too much of the girl they lost.
“It seemed like it was just yesterday I had dropped her off at school. It seemed like I had just told her, ‘I’ll see you Monday,’” the First Baptist Church pastor says, his eyes watering behind his glasses.
Pomeroy wasn’t at the church here the morning of Nov. 5 when a gunman walked in and opened fire with a military-style rifle.
Devin Patrick Kelley killed 14-year-old Annabelle and 25 others, including an unborn child, before he was shot and then killed himself during a car chase. Twenty people in the packed sanctuary were wounded. Kelley’s motive remains unclear, though he had a history of violence.
Four weeks after the church massacre, time stretches and snaps for people in this town of 600 south of San Antonio, shifting from fast to slow to fast again. One moment, it’s as if their loved ones were just there with them. The next, there’s a gaping hole, a monumental loss.
“The days run together. It’s like being on an island where you lose track of days,” Pomeroy said Thursday at his church office.

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