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.
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At that moment, "My heart immediately sank,” the Wilson County EMT, 30, told ABC San Antonio affiliate KSAT-TV, which notes the family has set up a GoFundMe page.
McCallum’s sister-in-law, Crystal Holcombe, was inside the church, the affiliate said. Holcombe had been married to McCallum's brother before he 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 the unborn child in the official death toll of 26.
McCallum said, “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 showed another medic a photo of her niece, Emily, "and he said that was her,” McCallum said, crying.
McCallum waited for hours until investigators starting removing bodies and she could see Holcombe, Megan and Greg.
"I didn’t want to leave," McCallum said in the emotional interview. "I wanted to see them get out of that church."
When her two nieces and nephew went to heaven, McCallum said, she knows "the first person they saw was my brother, Pete -- was 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.
Besides Crystal, Emily, Megan and Greg, John Holcombe's parents, Bryan and Karla Holcombe, also died.
Bryan and Karla Holcombe’s son, Marc Daniel Holcombe, 36, also was killed, and so was Marc Daniel Holcombe’s 1-year-old daughter, Noah.