Irma Garcia’s family was already reeling from her death in the Texas school shooting that targeted her fourth grade class and killed her co-teacher and 19 students.
Then, just two days after the attack, her grieving husband collapsed and died at home of a heart attack, a family member said.
Joe Garcia, 50, laid flowers at his wife’s memorial Thursday morning in Uvalde, Texas, and returned home, where he “just about fell” and died, his nephew John Martinez told The New York Times.
Married for 24 years, the couple had four children.
“This should not happen in schools”
Martinez told the Detroit Free Press that the family struggled to understand that while the couple’s eldest son was training for combat in the Marine Corps, it was his mother who was shot.
“Things like this shouldn’t happen in schools,” he told the newspaper.
The Archdiocese of San Antonio and Rushing-Estes-Knowles Mortuary confirmed Joe Garcia’s death to The Associated Press. AP was unable to independently reach members of the Garcia family on Thursday.
The motive for the massacre – the deadliest school shooting in the country since the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut – remains under investigation, with authorities saying the 18-year-old gunman had no no known criminal or mental health history.
The rampage rocked a country already weary of gun violence and shattered the community of Uvalde, a largely Latino town of some 16,000 people about 120 kilometers from the Mexican border.
The Garcias loved to barbecue, Irma, 48, wrote in an online letter to her students at Robb Elementary School. She enjoyed listening to music and traveling to Concan, a community along the Frio River about 40 kilometers north of Uvalde.
Youngest child in 7th grade
The couple’s eldest child, Cristian, is a sailor. The couple’s other son, Jose, attends Texas State University. Their eldest daughter, Lyliana, is in her second year of high school, while her younger sister is in her seventh year.
The school year, which was due to end on Thursday, was Garcia’s 23rd year of teaching — all at Robb. She was previously named the school’s teacher of the year and was the recipient of the Trinity Award for Excellence in Education from Trinity University in 2019.
For five years, Garcia co-taught with Eva Mireles, who was also killed.
The suspect, Salvador Ramos, was inside the classroom for more than an hour before he was killed in a shootout with law enforcement, authorities said.
“Ms. Irma Garcia was my mentor when I first started teaching,” her colleague Allison McCullough wrote when Garcia was named teacher of the year. “The wealth of knowledge and patience she showed me changed my life.”