Home' Greymouth Star : November 8th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Sutherland Springs (Texas)
As usual, John Holcombe posted his Sunday
school lesson on-line a day ahead. It was about
an Old Testament miracle.
Holcombe was expecting a small miracle of his
own. His wife, a widow and mother of five, was
pregnant with their first child. But the following
morning, his family would bear an unspeakable
burden: Nearly a third of the fatalities in the
Lone Star State’s worst mass shooting.
The massacre inside their church in the tiny
Texas town of Sutherland Springs spared
Holcombe’s life, but not the lives of his wife,
three of her children, his parents, a brother and
a toddler niece. They were among 26 people
fatally shot during the shooting rampage on
Sunday that also killed several members of at
least one other extended family, a couple visiting
for the first time, the pastor’s teenage daughter
and other church-goers.
Investigators said the victims ranged in age
from 18 months old to 77. Hundreds of shell
cases and 15 magazines that hold 30 rounds
were found at the church, authorities said.
Holcombe and his 36-year-old wife, Crystal,
had recently married, Julius Kepper, who lives
about two blocks from the church, said.
“She was starting her life all over again,” he
said. “ That ’s a crying shame. ”
Holcombe suffered shrapnel wounds and
Crystal’s youngest child, Evelyn, was grazed
by bullets but both were discharged from the
hospital yesterday, Crystal’s aunt, Michele Hill,
said. Crystal’s eldest child, Phillip, had stayed
home from church that day, Hill said. She
added that Crystal was due in early April.
“They had actually just found out. They didn’t
think it was possible so this was just a miracle
baby,” Hill said.
Michael Ward rushed to the church after he
was abruptly awoken by his wife, Leslie, when
she heard a peal of gunfire from that direction
as she set up a yard sale. Ward told The Dallas
Morning News he found and carried out
his five-year-old nephew, Ryland, who had
four gunshot wounds. The boy was flown to
University Hospital in nearby San Antonio,
but the child’s mother and two of his sisters
were killed. Yesterday, the yard sale was still
set up, with clothes laid out or hung on plastic
racks, along with kitchen items. No one was
Another victim was the pastor’s 14-year-old
daughter, Annabelle Pomeroy. Her parents were
both out of town during the shootings, which
also wounded about 20 people.
Another young victim was 16-year-old Hailey
Krueger, the church and family members
confirmed on social media.
Investigators said the gunman, Devin Patrick
Kelley, had recently sent threatening texts to his
mother-in-law, a member of the church, and
the shooting appears to have been driven by
Kelley was formally ousted from the air force
for a 2012 assault on his ex-wife. He was found
with a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Sunday
after he was chased by two community members
and crashed his vehicle.
Kelley’s mother-in-law was not at the church
on Sunday. But his wife’s grandmother, 71-year-
old Lula Woicinski White, was attending the
ser vice and died in the shooting, according
to family members. Her stated occupation on
Facebook: doing whatever was needed at the
Karen and Scott Marshall had recently retired
to Texas from Pennsylvania and were visiting
the church for the first time when they were
killed, Scott ’s father, Robert Marshall, told
the Pittsburg Tribune-Review. He said Karen
Marshall had returned to Texas after finishing
an assignment at Maryland’s Andrews Air Force
Base, while her husband, an Air Force retiree,
had been working as a civilian contractor and
mechanic at Lackland Air Force Base, about
64km west of Sutherland Springs.
Crystal Holcombe was an industrious mother
who studied karate, loved to bake and raised
goats. Images she posted last month showed
her 11-year-old daughter Emily placing third
in a county archery competition, while others
showed her children standing behind biscuits
and cakes they had made for a baking sale.
Emily was among the children killed.
Wilson County sheriff ’s deputies were posted
outside the Holcombes’ home, which is across a
dusty two-lane road from grazing cattle. It is a
short drive from First Baptist Church. It is also
close to the Wards’ home, where an American
flag has been mounted on the fence upside down
since the shootings in Las Vegas on October 1,
an apparent memorial to the 58 victims of that
attack, according to neighbours. — AP
A third of
one family Moscow
Vladimir Putin stayed away from
events marking the centenary of the
Russian Revolution overnight, an event
that changed the world but has awkward
associations for the former KGB
operative who was trained to keep a lid
on dissent, not celebrate it.
In the Soviet era, missile launchers
rumbled across Red Square on
November 7, Soviet leaders watched
from atop the mausoleum of Vladimir
Lenin — father of the Bolshevik
Revolution — and the anniversary of the
uprising was a public holiday.
Red Square did host a military parade
overnight but it was mainly a stylised
historical re-enactment of a Soviet 1941
event and gave only a brief nod to the
famous uprising. It was not shown live
on State television, and featured merely
a brief segment on the 1917 revolution
with Red Army soldiers.
The centenary, Putin’s spokesman
said, was a routine working day for the
president who had several Kremlin
Accused by the opposition of having
metamorphosed into a cross between
a Soviet-style autocrat and a Tsar and
eyeing possible re-election next year,
the 65-year-old Russian leader has
spent years preaching stability while
denouncing uprisings in the former
Soviet Union and the Middle East.
Riot police have cracked down on a
string of anti-government protests this
year, carrying out mass detentions, and
opposition leader and fierce Putin critic
Alexei Navalny has been jailed three
times for breaking public protest rules.
Putin, in his quest to weld a proud
national identity, has cherry-picked
parts of Russia’s Soviet past, like its
World War Two victory and its success
in space. But while he does not stress
Communism’s role in those feats, he has
sometimes struck an ambivalent tone,
once calling the 1991 Soviet collapse the
greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the
In rare comments ahead of the
centenary, Putin made clear he thought
it would have been better if the 1917
Revolution had never happened, and he
believed there was nothing to celebrate.
“. . . We see how ambiguous its results
were, how closely the negative and,
we must acknowledge, the positive
consequences of those events are
intertwined,” Putin told a gathering of
academics last month.
“ Was it not possible to follow an
evolutionary path rather than go through
a revolution? Could we not have evolved
by way of gradual and consistent for ward
movement rather than at the cost of
destroying our statehood and the ruthless
fracturing of millions of human lives?”
Putin chose his words carefully. The
centenary may leave him with mixed
feelings, but it remains a hallowed
anniversary for the Russian Communist
party and for many older Russians.
Although it is the second largest party
in the lower house of parliament after
the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, the
Russian Communist Party wields little
real influence today and votes with the
Kremlin on most major issues. —Reuters
More than a quarter of British
holidaymakers say they are less
likely to visit the United States
while Donald Trump remains
president, a sur vey has found.
Just 6% of people claim they
are more likely to book a trip
across the Atlantic while he is
in the White House, with 27%
claiming a trip is less likely.
The research also found that
40% of travel trade executives
disagree that America “is a
country to do business with”
while Trump is in power.
About one in six say that he
has had the biggest impact on
their organisation in the past
On January 27 Trump
executive order banning visitors
from seven Muslim countries.
The president said the measure
subsequently challenged in
the courts — was necessary for
Some 1025 holidaymakers and
1622 travel trade executives took
part in the sur vey.
The results support previous
evidence showing Trump’s
election has had a negative
impact on US inbound tourism.
On-line travel firm Kayak
reported a 30% fall in searches
for flights to the US when the
result of the presidential election
was confirmed in November last
The Global Business Travel
Association has predicted that
a drop-off in tourism will result
in 4.3 million fewer visitors
to the US this year, worth
$10.68 billion in lost revenue.
WTM London spokesman
Paul Nelson said: “ There is
now clear evidence that some
people are being put off visiting
the US and some of travel’s
top executives are concerned
about the Trump effect on their
“The US is one of the world’s
key destinations and has long
been popular among Brits.
“It is important that America
gets the message out that not
only is it still open for visitors
but that it continues to be a
warm, welcoming and great value
destination.” — PA
Trump turning Britons off US holidays
Former Welsh government minister
Carl Sargeant, who was suspended last
week after allegations were made over
his personal conduct, has died, Sky News
Sargeant, a member of the opposition
Welsh Labour Party, told local media
earlier this week that he wanted an
urgent investigation into the allegations
“ in order to allow me to clear my name”.
The nature of his death was not clear
from the Sky News report. — Reuters
Spike in South African
The 2017 death toll in South Africa’s mines
has already surpassed the 2016 figure, ending
nine straight years of falling fatalities in the
world’s deepest mines and raising red flags for
the industry, government and labour groups.
The trend reversal is likely to reignite investor
concern over mine safety and could prompt
regulators to step up shaft inspections, which
often result in costly production stoppages.
“Fatal accidents last week raised the number
of fatalities in 2017 to 76, above the 73 reported
in 2016. This is particularly disappointing given
the consistent improvement the industry has
seen over the past two decades,” South Africa’s
Chamber of Mines said in a statement.
The chamber said there had been several
fatalities in recent weeks because of seismic
Anglo American Platinum chief executive
Chris Griffith, who heads the chamber’s
CEO Zero Harm Forum, said the industry,
government and labour needs to “accelerate
initiatives that could improve this unacceptable
Fidel Hadebe, spokesman for the department
of mineral resources, said “the department will
certainly be stepping up efforts around this
issue”, including closing operations for non-
compliance with safety regulations.
Paul Mardon, head of health and safety at the
Solidarity trade union, said there were concerns
that production pressures were compromising
safety as workers worried about their jobs in a
difficult economic climate.
He also said there was a worrying trend in the
size and frequency of what are called “fall of
ground” incidents, which involve tunnel roofs or
walls crumbling on to workers. This could point
to geological or other structural issues.
With an unforgiving geology, South Africa is
home to the world’s deepest mines.
South African mining companies include
Harmony Gold, Gold Fields, Impala Platinum
and Anglo Gold Ashanti among others. Anglo
Gold Ashanti operates the world’s deepest
mine, the Mponeng goldmine, which extends
4km below ground.
For all the dangers, the industry in the world’s
top platinum producer had been making
significant strides on safety thanks to measures
such as the use of netting to catch falling rocks
at the face, or stope, where drilling and blasting
In 1993, the year before Nelson Mandela
became South Africa’s first black president, 615
miners died in the pits. By 2009 the number
had dropped to 167 and kept falling, reaching a
record low of 73 in 2016, according to Chamber
of Mines data. — Reuters
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