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Victim of church shooting died while shielding grandson

Family members say Peggy Lynn Warden, 56, was killed as she used her body as a shield to save her grandson Zachary Poston, 18, during the attack on the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church. (courtesy photos)

Peggy Lynn Warden had already been through so much this year. Her husband, Christopher, died in July after battling lung cancer. Her father passed away before that.

She had stayed home for 14 months to take care of Christopher. Then when he died, the 56-year-old grandmother went right back to work at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church, as a volunteer teacher.

"My sister spent her whole life working at the church," Warden's brother Jimmy Stevens told us.

"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."

Warden's family says she served until the very end, that she was killed while saving the life of her own grandson.

...SO THAT HE MIGHT LIVE

When the gunman was firing his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle directly at members of the congregation on Sunday, they say Warden shielded her 18-year-old grandson Zachary Poston, taking the bullets so that he might live.

And Poston did survive, even though he suffered six gunshot wounds.

But his grandmother, Peggy Warden, was killed.

"My sister - as someone who would serve and protect - put her body over his when the shooting started..." her brother said, his voice choked with emotion.

"And that's when she got shot."

Stevens told us that the heroism didn't end there. He says that his great-nephew Poston did what he could to save another life.

PAYING IT FORWARD

"As he was laying on the floor, he helped a little girl get underneath a pew to protect her."

But when the girl started to crawl out, Poston used his leg to push her back under the pew.

That's when the gunman fired again, shattering Poston's kneecap.

After that, he played dead until the shooting stopped, and then called 911 for help.

They're still not sure of the identity of the little girl under the pew, but they believe she survived.

Poston underwent another eight hours of surgery at San Antonio's Brooke Army Medical Center Tuesday, with surgeons inserting a metal rod in his leg, while tending to several of the gunshot wounds.

He's expected to need more surgeries in the future.

WHAT SHE LIVED FOR

"It's a blessing that he's here," Stevens told us. "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."

Stevens also said his family wants to thank the whole community for showing them such love and support.

"God bless all the people who have come to us and comforted us and strengthened us and brought us scriptures, prayed with us and hugged us and held us."

"That means the world."

HOW YOU CAN HELP

The family has started a gofundme page to help with Zachary Poston's recovery and his future.

You can find it at https://www.gofundme.com/zacharys-recovery-education-fund.

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