Today marks the one year anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history, and many families are still coming to grips with what happened inside a tiny church, southeast of San Antonio, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.
"It's tough whenever you approach the one year anniversary of such a cataclysmic event," attorney Jamal Alsaffar, who represents three families in a federal lawsuit, says.
When the smoke cleared at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, 26 people were dead. Another 20 were injured. The gunman later shot and killed himself after a short chase.
One year later, that church has been torn down. A new house of worship is being built on adjacent property. The first phase is expected to be completed this spring.
But the families of the murder victims still have a lot of questions. They don't know why the gunman attacked their church, and they never will. But they do know how it happened.
The gunman was convicted of assaulting his wife and fracturing his toddler stepson's skull. But that information was never uploaded to a federal gun-buying database, allowing the gunman to purchase the firearm at a San Antonio Academy Sports + Outdoors store.
The mishandling of the information is the basis of a drawn out legal battle that, one year later, slowing moves through San Antonio's federal court system.
Under federal law, when anyone announces plans to sue the government, the feds are given six months to respond. After that time, a formal lawsuit can be filed.
In San Antonio, U.S. District Judge David Ezra ruled that all of the lawsuits will be rolled into one. So far, four lawsuits have been filed so far by victims or their relatives.
Alsaffar represents three families: the Vidals, the McNultys and the Johnsons.
"These families are strong and they are unified and it has been amazing to work with them and experience how resolute they are to make sure justice can be done."
PHOTO: Governor Abbott speaks at a memorial service in Sutherland Springs on Sunday. Photo courtesy: Office of the Governor