RCI Members Helped Build Memorial One Year Ago at Site of Deadliest Religious Center Mass Shooting

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February 1, 2019
memorial chairs
REUTERS/Rick Wilking
On November 5, 2017, Devin Patrick Kelley stormed the peaceful First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, during a Sunday morning church service, killing 26 and injuring 20. The attack was the deadliest mass shooting in Texas and the most lethal attack on an American place of worship in modern history.

Only one week after the shooting, when the memorial to the victims was unveiled in that same church, the stark, all-white sanctuary held 26 white chairs, each carrying the name of a victim and a single red rose. Some said it looked like an art installation carrying an ethereal yet powerful message honoring the dead.

The transformation was accomplished in just 72 hours with the help of many, including the companies of two RCI Industry members. Mark A. Westbrook, of C4 General Contractor, LLC, Dallas, TX, contacted a local painting company, J&K Painting, to work on the repair and repainting of the sanctuary. RCI Industry member Brad Beldon, CEO of San Antonio-based Beldon Roofing Company, and company president Danny Mendez, offered their help and purchased 26 Terje folding chairs from IKEA. A calligrapher painted the names on each of the chairs.

As soon as law enforcement retreated from the church, the crime scene became a construction site. A biohazard firm cleaned the sanctuary and the volunteers filled the bullet holes with joint compound and painted the interior white. At least 30 construction workers were on site at one point.

Beldon launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to rebuild or repair the building. The fund raised $1,165,620. On the first anniversary of the shooting, a special service dedicated to the families, friends, and survivors was held at the church. A new place of worship is being built adjacent to the church with the donations of hundreds of individuals.

Watch a video on the memorial below.

– San Antonio Express-News