A Texas emergency medical technician was responding to a shooting when she quickly realized she was en route to her family’s church, the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.
Wilson County first responder Torie McCallum recalled the gut-wrenching moment she learned her loved ones were inside the same sanctuary where a gunman killed at least 25 people and one unborn child during a Sunday morning service.
“I turn on my E-Dispatch on my phone to listen to the page and realized it was the church in Sutherland Springs and my heart immediately sank,” McCallum, 30, told local news outlet KSAT-TV. “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.”
Inside the church were McCallum’s pregnant sister-in-law Crystal Holcombe and three generations of the Holcombe family: Crystal’s husband, John, and their young children, Evelyn, Greg, 13, Emily, 11, and Megan, 9, as well as his parents Bryan, 60, and Karla, 58, his brother Marc, 36, and 17-month-old niece Noah. (Crystal had been married to McCallum’s brother before he died in 2011.)
McCallum’s coworker was able to identify only one of McCallum’s nieces at the scene. “I showed him a picture of my niece, Emily, and he said that was her,” she said.
Sadly, only two of ten family members survived: John and Evelyn. The deaths were confirmed to PEOPLE by Bryan’s father, Joe Holcombe.
Hours after arriving at the scene, McCallum witnessed authorities start to remove bodies of the victims, including Crystal, Megan and Greg.
“I wanted to see them out. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to see them get out of that church,” she said.
The family has set up a GoFundMe account where donations can be made.