Mother mourns 16-year-old daughter killed in church shooting

'No parent should ever have to bury their child'

Sutherland Springs, Texas – A cross bearing the name of 16-year-old Haley Krueger stood next to 25 others Thursday, part of a white line of grief that stood by the main intersection in Sutherland Springs.

"It's just devastating. I shouldn't be here," Haley's mother, Charlene Uhl, said. "I shouldn't have to go through this and have to bury our child. It should have never happened."

Related: Funeral information released for church shooting victims

Haley was one of nine children, including an unborn baby, killed in Sunday's mass shooting at First Baptist Church.  

Uhl said her daughter loved the church, where she was a member of the youth group that went to a camp this summer. Haley had a special connection with youth leader Karla Holcombe, who also died in the shooting. 

Uhl remembers her last words to Haley as she dropped the teen off at the church, where the teen attended every Thursday and Sunday.

Related: Images: Remembering the Victims

"I gave her a kiss, and I said 'I love you,' and 'I'll be back later,'" Uhl said.

Uhl was at home in La Vernia around 11:30 a.m. when she saw reports of the shooting on Facebook. She jumped in her car and raced back to the church.

"When I got here, there was just cars everywhere," she recalls. "Cops, police, firetrucks, and I was trying to find my daughter. And they told me I had to come and wait because a helicopter was landing."

She waited hours for news. At 1 a.m., she learned Haley died.

Now, like many other families in the small community, Uhl has to find a way to move forward.

"I want her back," she said. "She was amazing, and I just don't know how to live life without her."

With three other children to raise, Uhl knows she has to find a way to move on, even as she mourns her bubbly, vibrant daughter. Haley had a penchant for bows and dreamed of being a neonatal intensive care unit nurse. 

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"She loved babies," Uhl said. "She adored them and she wanted to help them." 

Instead of planning for her daughter's future, Uhl has to plan her funeral.

"It's the most horrible thing ever," she said. "No parent should ever have to bury their child, especially this way."

About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.