'She Was the Epitome of Christ': Mother Shielded Children With Her Body During TX Church Shooting
In the days following the Texas church massacre, stories of courage in the face of evil are beginning to emerge.
Joann Ward - a mother of four - died as she attempted to shield her children from the gunfire.
Two of her children – Ryland and Rihanna – survived the shooting. Joann and her two other daughters – Emily and Brooke – did not.
Vonda Smith, a close friend of Ward and official spokesperson for the family, joined Laura Ingraham to share what she knows about her friend's final, heroic moments.
Smith revealed that she spoke to nine-year-old Rihanna after the shooting.
"The first thing she told me was that the reason that she didn't get shot like everybody else was because her momma threw her on the ground and told her to hide," Smith said. "As soon as she threw her on the ground, she scooped up her other three that were sitting next to her in a pew – Ryland, who's five, and Brooke, who's five, and Emily, who's seven – and she immediately covered them with her body. And that's exactly how Rihanna described it."
Ryland was shot four times and underwent extensive surgeries. He remains in critical condition and faces a long road to recovery. Rihanna was uninjured because she was able to hide.
Smith said that no one in the community was surprised at Ward's ultimate sacrifice, because her children were always her number one priority.
"If they needed anything, it was [at] the drop of a hat. It was about her children. And that's Joann's heart," Smith said. "It's the thing that you hear sometimes parents say, but you never think they'll have to. She said, 'I would die for my children.' And she ended up having to do that, in the very end."
"She loved them so. And she gave it up for them ultimately," Smith said. "She was the epitome of Christ."