The pantry’s director, Lula White, was among those killed in the shooting. She was the 71-year-old grandmother of the gunman’s wife.
As 68-year-old Brandy Johnson walked in, she flinched and said she could “see Lu at the desk.” White “had a heart as big as Texas,” she said.
Judy Green, along with her husband, Rod, have operated the pantry for 11 years. She said she has slept little since Sunday, waking up screaming from nightmares. The couple were not at the service Sunday but later watched as worshippers were carried out in body bags.
“It is fresh in my mind. I see it all - just over and over and over,” Judy Green said.
Law enforcement officials have reopened the intersection where the First Baptist Church stands, but black mesh material was tied to the chain-link fence surrounding it. With the bullet-riddled church door open, a tall wooden cross could be seen at the altar.
At annual Veterans Day observances Saturday, the church victims with military backgrounds will receive a full military salute on the grounds of the community hall, said Alice Garcia, president of the unincorporated town’s community association.
“Everyone in the community is doing what they can, but honestly everyone feels so helpless,” 20-year-old Karyssa Calbert, of neighboring Floresville, said at the hall.
While some people might want to get back into a regular routine right after a tragedy, it’s important to acknowledge that others might need more time - and therapy - to cope, said Tomas Yufik, a clinical psychologist at St. Edward’s University.
For some people, returning to the scene could help, while it could trigger painful memories for others, he said.
Frank Pomeroy told leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention this week that the church would be razed because it would be too painful for to continue using the building.
“There’s too many that do not want to go back there,” he told The Wall Street Journal.
Before the church is demolished, it will serve as a temporary memorial, said Rod Green, who also serves as the grounds steward for the church. The building will be scrubbed down and whitewashed, and chairs will be placed inside — one to commemorate each of the dead.
Meanwhile, funerals have started. On Thursday, more than 500 people attended a private service at a San Antonio-area Air Force base for Scott and Karen Marshall, a husband and wife who both served in the military, said Randy Martin, spokesman for the 12th Flying Training Wing.
Eleven people remained hospitalized Friday with wounds from the shooting.
Austin American-Statesman staff writers Johnathan Silver and Julie Chang contributed to this report along with The Associated Press.