HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — It has been almost one week since three people died in a mass shooting in Smithsburg, Md., and loved ones of the victims are beginning to speak out. Taylor Toms, the girlfriend of 30-year-old Joshua Robert Wallace, said she felt led to share more about Wallace in the wake of his death.
“It feels like my heart has been ripped out of my chest,” Toms said when she first started speaking to WDVM. Her family said she has barely gotten out of bed or spoken since she heard the news of Wallace’s death. She said, “Everything stopped. Everything was going forward around me. Everything kept moving on, but my world was stopped.”
Toms was working in West Virginia when she found out there was an active shooter situation at Wallace’s place of work. She said after gathering herself, she hopped in the car and started toward Smithsburg. Even though she tried to stay positive, she said she already had a pit in her stomach. “I was trying to have hope, but he was gone. I felt that part of me gone. I just knew,” she said.
A few miles from Columbia Machine, where the shooting happened, she said an 18-wheeler almost hit her head-on but instead hit only her mirror. But, she said, “I feel like Josh was with me there like he saved me from being hit.”
Toms said, “It still doesn’t feel real, and I feel numb. He was supposed to be my forever, you know?” But, while sharing Wallace’s story with WDVM and talking about him, Toms smiled for the first time since finding out what happened. She said, “He was amazing. He was such a good, patient, genuine, gentle, kind man.”
Toms said Wallace was the type of man who would give you the shirt off of his back. “He worked so hard. For everyone he cared about, for anyone he loved, he was there for them. It didn’t matter who you were. He was there for you.” She said he was goofy and loved to push her buttons, with a mischievous grin on his face. She said, “He was my soulmate. He was my everything.”
“Everyone loved him. Everybody knew him and everyone who knew him had nothing but good things to say about him. He was blunt. He was always honest and strong and he was never fake. He was real,” she said. Since his death, she has received hundreds of messages and comments on social media that echo his praises. She said, “It’s kind of overwhelming. It’s like, all these people I never met, but they’re all telling me these beautiful stories about Josh, and it’s amazing.”
While the hole he leaves will never be filled, Toms said she finds peace in her faith and daily Bible verses, like the one that popped up on June 9. That morning, her verse was Matthew chapter five, verse four. It said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” The passage that went along with the verse is below:
“Lord, it comforts me to know that you are always wise, always good, always for me, especially in my grief. Jesus said we are blessed when we mourn. It’s confounding to those who have never known loss– or known it with you as their comforter– but to me, it is beautiful truth. Only in my deepest pain did I grasp the depth of your love. That I could feel even a minute of joy while suffering the loss of someone I loved so dearly was a gift so sweet, it could only have come from you. That I could believe in my great sadness I would ever be happy again was a testament to the comforting power of your love. Thank you for being there.”365 Days of Prayer for Women
To donate to Joshua Wallace’s funeral expenses: https://www.gofundme.com/f/4rbtv-joshua-wallace
As for the man who took Wallace’s life, Joe Louis Esquival, Toms said he is in her prayers. “I pray for him. He’s sick,” she explained. “I hate that he took the love of my life from me, but I can’t hate him. Hating him or wanting him to die, lose his life, or for him to suffer is not going to bring my Josh back to me. He needs to face the consequences of his actions, but I pray that he fights those demons and he can feel remorse.”
Esquival was in court on Monday, June 13, for his first appearance in court. The judge decided to hold him without bond.