On November 5, 2017, a gunman stormed into the rural First Baptist church and opened fire. His tragic actions left 26 people dead and 20 more injured, according to ABC News, including an unborn child. The attack has been called the worst mass shooting in Texas history.
Among those who were injured was the now-six-year-old Ryland Ward, who was shot several times by the gunman.
After the tragic shooting, a volunteer firefighter rushed into the church. He then began checking the aisles to check for people's pulses. This was the moment that he found Ryland, who was underneath his stepmom. He stretched out his hand and grabbed the firefighter's leg.
Shocked to see the little boy, he rolled over the stepmother and grabbed him. The firefighter then ran outside with him.
"That's where Ryland's hand reached out from under his stepmom and grabbed my pant leg," recalls firefighter Rusty Duncan. "I rolled her over and grabbed him and started running outside with him."
Once the firefighter ran outside with the boy in his arms, a man named Chris Ward ran up to them. It was Ryland's dad, who shouted out, "They killed my baby!"
"No, he's not dead, he's still alive," responded Duncan. "Unfortunately his wife and two girls were actually gone."
Ryland's stepmother was unfortunately among the casualties, as well as her daughters, who were ages 5 and 7.
After the little boy was rushed to the hospital, the firefighter continued to visit him in the hospital. Unfortunately, Ryland is still having trouble walking and is unable to regain full use of his hips. Ryland also suffered from delays in his recovery due to complications in the healing process. But this hasn't stopped him from fighting to get well, despite enduring such tragedy.
"This little boy has the best fighting spirit I've ever seen out of anybody in my entire life," said Duncan. "He's kept me going this whole time. Even when I was giving up ... just thinking about him and being around him makes me smile."
Today, Ryland was given some wonderful news: that he can finally, after all this time, go back home. He was given a special ride home in a firetruck.
As he returned back home, members of the community were standing and waiting for him to return. They held up signs, and many of them placed signs into the ground. Members could be heard yelling "welcome home!" as the firetruck came into town.
"Just happy the Lord brought him home," remarked a resident.
According to Dallas News, Ryland was the last person to be sent home from the shooting.
He was released at around 2 pm today.
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