Vice President Pence attends vigil for Sutherland Springs victims

By Lea Wilson - Digital News Editor, Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor, Rose-Ann Aragon - Reporter

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas - Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Texas on Wednesday to meet with victims of the Sutherland Springs church shooting.

Pence was joined by his wife, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and representatives Will Hurd (R-Helotes) and Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo).

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joined Pence and his group as they received a briefing from local law enforcement in Sutherland Springs.

Pence also delivered remarks during a vigil for the victims Wednesday night at Floresville High School, a school that is about a 15-minute drive away from where the shooting happened.

Twenty-six people were killed when a gunman opened fire at the First Baptist Church in the small Wilson County town, about 40 miles southeast of San Antonio. Twenty others were wounded.

WATCH: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at church shooting vigil

The gunman killed himself after being shot and chased by neighbors of the church.

Hundreds packed Eschenburg Field, the school's football stadium, to show support and be in solidarity with the victims of the shooting.

"We're overwhelmed with grief. Everybody knows everybody here. So, there's probably not one person in this city that doesn't know someone here," said vigil attendee Raynell Odom. "I hope they know that the love, support and prayers in this community are with them."

Pence told stories of the survivors whom he spoke with.

WATCH FULL VIGIL: Vigil held for church shooting victims

"Faith tells us to overcome evil with good," said Pence. "So this weekend, I hope a lot of Americans do what we're doing here tonight."

Governor Greg Abbott declared Sunday, Nov. 12, a day of prayer in the state of Texas. The proclamation also encourages all Texans to join in a moment of silence at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 12 to honor and remember the lives of those who have been lost.

"The act of craven cowardice and evil inflicted on the Sutherland Springs community has deeply touched the core of who we are as faithful people," said Abbott. “In times of tragedy, we often see the very best of Texas. We must remain strong and resilient, and lean on the support and care of our helping communities in this dark time. That is why I encourage people from across the state and country to come together and join me in a day of prayer this Sunday, Nov. 12, to honor and remember the lives of those who have been lost.”

Prayer is what 13-year-old Samuel Jarutowicz said he needs. His friend and classmate was shot.

"It just gives me hope that everyone will still help each other."

Donations poured in from all over the nation. As of Wednesday afternoon more than $1.2 million was donated to GoFundMe pages for families affected by the shooting.

WATCH: Vice President Mike Pence speaks at church shooting vigil

Even families affected by other mass shootings put up a donation page.

The state's Crime Victims’ Compensation (CVC) program experts were in Suhterland Springs this week. The CVC program reimburses victims and claimants for certain crime-related expenses, such as funeral and burial costs, mental health counseling, loss of wages, loss of support, child care, and medical costs. The Texas CVC program, considered the largest of its kind in the United States, is administered by the attorney general’s office.

“As we continue to mourn the tragic loss of innocent life in Sutherland Springs, my office is committed to providing assistance to those who face enormous obstacles on their road to recovery,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “The untold story in the aftermath of this tragedy is the deep financial toll it can take on victims and their families who face crime-related expenses not reimbursed by other sources.”

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