(Sutherland Springs, TX) — Emergency medical technician Torie McCallum was on her way to a reported shooting at a rural Texas church Sunday morning when she learned the calls had come from the Texas church some of her family members attended: the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.
“My heart immediately sank,” the Wilson County EMT, 30, told ABC’s San Antonio affiliate KSAT-TV.
McCallum’s sister-in-law, Crystal Holcombe, was inside the church. Holcombe had been married to McCallum’s brother who died in 2011.
Holcombe died Sunday inside the house of worship with three of her children: Emily, Megan and Greg.
She had remarried after her first husband’s death and was a mother of five. Holcombe was also pregnant, according to authorities. Police included her unborn child in the official death toll of 26.
“I made it to the scene to see if I could see who was flown out and who was taken; if they had a list,” McCallum said.
McCallum showed another medic a photo of her niece, Emily. “He said that was her,” McCallum said, crying.
McCallum waited for hours until investigators starting removing bodies from the church.
“I didn’t want to leave,” McCallum said in the emotional interview. “I wanted to see them get out of that church.”
McCallum said she knows that when her two nieces and nephew went to heaven, “the first person they saw was my brother, Pete … their dad.”
Crystal Holcombe is survived by her husband, John Holcombe, and two of her children.
Holcombe family members from multiple generations were among the deceased.
In addition to Crystal, Emily, Megan and Greg, John Holcombe’s parents, Bryan and Karla Holcombe, died in the attack.
Bryan and Karla Holcombe’s son, Marc Daniel Holcombe, 36, was also killed, along with Marc Daniel Holcombe’s 1-year-old daughter, Noah.
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