First responder describes losing family in Texas church shooting

Torie McCallum: 'My heart immediately sank'

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SAN ANTONIO – It’s the call no first responder wants to hear.

Wilson County emergency medical technician Torie McCallum was on her way to the scene of the Texas church shooting when she found out it was the church members of her family attended.

“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 said.

McCallum’s sister-in-law, Crystal Holcombe; her nieces Emily, Megan and Evelyn; and her nephew, Greg Hill, were all inside the church.

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Along with Holcombe were her husband, John Holcombe; his parents, Bryan and Karla Holcombe; his brother, Marc Holcombe; and 1-year-old niece, Noah.

“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.

A fellow medic and coworker were able to identify one of McCallum’s nieces.

“I showed him a picture of my niece, Emily, and he said that was her,” McCallum said.


McCallum waited for hours before authorities began to remove the bodies from the church and she was able to see 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,” McCallum said.

RELATED: Mother killed while trying to protect children

The only survivors were John Holcombe and McCallum’s 6-year-old niece, Evelyn. The two have since been released from the hospital.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account where donations can be made. 

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About the Author:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter.