AG TEEN A VICTIM IN TEXAS SCHOOL SHOOTING, CHURCH RESPONDS
In the wake of yet another school shooting, this time in the small south Texas town of Santa Fe, Assemblies of God Pastor Brad Drake, who leads Dayspring Church, is preparing to bury one of their own.
Fifteen-year-old Angelique Ramirez, a member of the church’s youth group, was one of eight students and two teachers shot and killed by another student at Santa Fe High School Friday morning.
“I believe with all my heart, Angelique had a personal relationship with God,” says Richard Pourchot, who pastors the youth with his wife, Amber, at Dayspring,
The Pourchots have known Angelique and her parents for years and are close friends with her parents. For years the two couples served as co-children’s ministries directors at another local church. The Pourchots have treated Angelique just like any of the other 25 to 30 youth group members — she was considered family.
Richard Pourchot describes Angelique as someone who deeply loved her family and would do anything for a friend. She was also one of those students who had a very unique style of her own — from the color of her hair to the way she dressed. “Her parents raised her to be a very strong, independent person, and that’s what she was growing into,” Pourchot says. “You don’t follow the crowd, you do you — and that’s what she did. I never saw her peer-pressured into anything.”
Pastor Brad Drake and his wife, Meredith, have five children of their own, ages 12 to 3. On Friday morning, Brad was in Houston for the concluding day of district council meetings. Meredith, however, was right outside the high school with their children in the car on the way to the Christian school, stuck in traffic, as the police attempted to stop the shooter and rescue staff and students.
The Pourchots have two daughters, ages 12 and 8. Their older daughter attends the junior high — the location high school students and parents were sent for reunification.
Drake, who helped set up food and rehab for first responders Friday morning, later drove to the junior high. He says it was a difficult day as anxious parents waited to be reunited with their children. But it was a far more difficult for those families who could not reach their children by phone.
For the Ramirez family, the suffering was made doubly difficult as it was reported by a hospital that Angelique had been admitted and was already released. However, no one had seen her and she was not answering her phone.
Amber Pourchot called and drove to hospitals, searching for Angelique, to no avail. A little after 5 that evening, with Meredith and Richard by Angelique’s parents’ side, officials confirmed that Angelique had been killed.
Richard says that the shooting has impacted the lives of students. “I have been hearing a lot of, ‘If I was 30 seconds this way, one minute that way, I would have been right in the middle of it’ — even my niece, who should have been in that hallway, but a teacher had said no to her request,” he says. “It’s really hard for kids to digest, knowing that if they were two minutes behind or ahead, it could have been them.”
Although the days since then have been filled with anguish, tears, and countless questions, Brad Drake says the churches and community have come together to offer and provide whatever support is needed, including nearly ceaseless prayer.
On Wednesday, all local churches are canceling services to hold a night of prayer for hope and healing at the Santa Fe Junior High football stadium. “We also brought in Kelly Ward, an AG U.S. missionary who is a licensed counselor, to be available to people at least through the end of the week,” Drake says.
Drake says that he is blessed to be heavily involved in the community as the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and part of the ministerial alliance. He and Dayspring have also found favor with city and school officials, making it easier to offer help to students, school staff, and other community members who are struggling.
Yet, perhaps what stands out the most to national media, is what Drake says is a very strong and atypical response to the shooting.
“All of our leaders, from our local, mayoral, and school district to state representatives, senators, and the governor, as they have come, they all have pointed this community and our state to Jesus,” Drake says. “He’s our only hope. Although none of us are perfect and we’re still walking out our own faith journeys, at least from our leadership, they understand God is our hope and that starts at the top and runs down through our community.”
Having heard from the AG General Superintendent Doug Clay and many others around the state and across the country, Drake expresses his deep appreciation for prayers and support. He also thanks churches and individuals for not flooding the community, but working through the local church.
Funeral plans for Angelique are still being considered, but should be determined later this week. Drake says that he and the church are available and will actively continue to make themselves available to Angelique’s family and all other hurting community members.
“This has devastated many,” he says. “We’re a small town, and in a small town you know somebody, either directly or their aunt, cousin, or some other relative, that has been affected.”