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5-year-old Sutherland Springs shooting victim continues fight to recover

5-year-old Ryland Ward

One month after a gunman opened fire in the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church, 5-year-old Ryland Ward, remains in the hospital. Sandy Stokes Ward is Ryland’s grandmother.

“They always call him brave boy and tough guy,” she says. “The doctors and nurses at the hospital say he’s the toughest boy they’ve ever seen.”

Stokes-Ward knows Ryland is tough. He was shot 5-times at the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church November 5th. Bullets shattered his femur, damaged his left arm, kidney and bladder, and left a physical and emotional toll.

“The only thing he’s really said is he started remembering a little bit. All he’s said is a bad man with a gun that they had to hide from," Stokes-Ward said.

That bad man killed 26 people in church that Sunday morning, and injured more than a dozen others. Ryland’s sisters, Brooke and Emily, and his stepmother Joann, among those killed.

“Joann, she was a great person she had a lot of friends,” she recalls. “She was one of my best friends. Me and her, we were really good friends."

And this grandmother’s grief for her granddaughters is unimaginable.

“Emily was so sweet. I always called her my little helper because if you needed her to help you do anything she would. Brooke was our little ballerina. She’d go to church and when we’d sing, she’d dance up and down the aisle.”

And now that church that was once a happy place, is a heartbreaking reminder of what happened.

“That’s when I miss them the most, when I go to church. Even before Joann started going, we were always taking them to church, me and my husband, and everyone always loved our grandbabies,” Stokes-Ward remembers.

She continues to visit her other grandbaby, Ryland, at the hospital every day, where his dad is constantly by his side. And the only solace they find in their grief during this holiday season is their faith, “I’d probably fall apart if I didn’t know they were in heaven and I was going to see them again and that’s the thing that keeps me going. We miss them so much right now."

Ryland remains in the hospital intensive care unit. His family says that's where he will probably have to spend Christmas and celebrate his sixth birthday in January.

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