Grandmother Died Protecting Her 18-Year-Old Grandson During Texas Church Shooting — And In Turn, He Saved The Life Of A Little Girl

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Peggy Lynn Warden was a volunteer teacher at First Baptist Church.

When Devin Kelley pushed through the doors of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and started firing his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle at the congregation, Peggy Warden didn't think twice.

The moment the gunman pointed in her 18-year-old grandson's direction, she jumped on top of him, serving as a shield for every bullet that came in their direction. 

Though Zachary Poston suffered six gunshot wounds, he lived. Warden did not. 


The 56-year-old volunteer teacher at First Baptist had already had a hard year. Her husband, Christopher, had passed away in July after a 14-month battle with lung cancer. Before that, her father had died. 

But after she staying home to take care of Christopher, she went back to work at the church, no questions asked. 

"My sister spent her whole life working at the church," Warden's brother Jimmy Stevens told News 4 San Antonio. "It was always her goal to serve and teach children the word of God. There was nothing she would have rather done. And she served people basically her whole life."

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It's no surprise to her family that Warden sacrificed her own life, for her grandson's. 

My sister - as someone who would serve and protect - put her body over his when the shooting started..." her brother said. "And that's when she got shot."

And it's no surprise to the rest of us that heroism runs deep in this family. While Poston was laying on the floor, suffering from several gunshot wounds, he did what he could to save the life of a little girl. 

"As he was laying on the floor, he helped a little girl get underneath a pew to protect her," Stevens said. "But when the girl started to crawl out, Poston used his leg to push her back under the pew."

That's when Kelley fired another shot at Poston, hitting him in the kneecap. The teen played dead until the shooting stop, and then called 911. The little girl's identity is still unknown, but the family believes she survived the attack. 

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Poston underwent hours of surgery at San Antonio's Brooke Army Medical Center where his gunshot wounds were tended to and a metal rod was inserted into his leg. Doctors say he'll likely need more surgeries in the future. 


The family started a GoFundMe page for Poston to raise money to help his recovery and his future. Currently, $13,000 out of $50,000 has been raised. 

He's in his senior year of high school and has his heart set on graduating. 

"It's a blessing that he's here," Stevens said. "And I see it as a blessing that my sister did not suffer. He was right there and she died very quickly. And she died serving the Lord and helping someone who needed it. And that's what she lived for."

"So that is a victory, but she will be missed every day of my life, forever."

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Emily Blackwood is an editor at YourTango who covers pop culture, true crime, dating, relationships and everything in between. Every Wednesday at 10:20 p.m. you can ask her any and all questions about self-love, dating, and relationships LIVE on YourTango’s Facebook page. You can follow her on Instagram (@blackw00d) and Twitter (@emztweetz).