Widower of teacher shot dead in Texas massacre dies ‘of broken heart’ days after shooting

27 May 2022, 06:04 | Updated: 27 May 2022, 10:02

Joe and Irma Garcia were married for 24 years
Joe and Irma Garcia were married for 24 years. Picture: Alamy/Twitter

By Daisy Stephens

The husband of one of the teachers murdered in Tuesday's school shooting in Texas has died of a heart attack two days later.

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The children of Joe and Irma Garcia, who had been married for 24 years, were comforted at a church service on Friday as they mourned the loss of both parents within three days.

Father Eduardo Morales told them: "We are your family.

"Your mother and father will always find a way to take care of you."

Mr and Mrs Garcia were 'high school sweethearts' and are survived by their four children, aged between 12 and 23 - including a son in the Marine Corps.

The couple's oldest child, Cristian, is a Marine; their other son, Jose, attends Texas State University; their eldest daughter, Lyliana, is a high school sophomore, the equivalent of year 11; while her younger sister is in the seventh grade - the equivalent of year eight.

Mrs Garcia, 46, was one of two teachers killed by teenage gunman Salvador Ramos.

Mr Garcia, 50, collapsed at home with a heart attack just hours after he was filmed laying flowers at a memorial for his late wife.

His family said he "died of a broken heart".

Read more: Heroic girl, 10, 'shot dead calling 911' as Texas gunman kills 21 in school massacre

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Mr and Mrs Garcia's nephew John Martinez shared the news on Twitter, writing: "EXTREMELY heartbreaking and come with deep sorrow to say that my Tia [aunt] Irma’s husband Joe Garcia has passed away due to grief, i truly am at a loss for words for how we are all feeling, PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR FAMILY, God have mercy on us, this isn’t easy"

A fundraising page was set up by Mrs Garcia's cousin Debra Austin.

As of Friday morning the page had raised over $1.6m, despite the initial target being just $10,000.

"Irma Garcia was my cousin and one of the teachers killed at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas," Ms Austin wrote on the page.

"Irma was a wife, a mother of 4, a cousin, a sister a daughter, an aunt and a wonderful person.

"She would literally do anything for anybody......no questions asked.

"She loved her classroom kids and died trying to protect them."

Read more: Harrowing moment deputy responding to Texas shooting is told his daughter, 10, was killed

Read more: 'Bullied' Texas school gunman Salvador Ramos 'bought guns for his 18th birthday'

She added: "I am equally devasted (sic) to report Irma's husband Joe has tragically passed away this morning (5/26/2022) as a result of a medical emergency.

"Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers.

"I truly believe Joe died of a broken heart and losing the love of his life of more than 25 years was too much to bear."

Mrs Garcia had been a teacher for 23 years
Mrs Garcia had been a teacher for 23 years. Picture: Alamy

On Tuesday another of Mrs Garcia's nephews said his aunt had sacrificed herself to protect her students.

"My tia did not make it, she sacrificed herself protecting the kids in her classroom," he wrote on Twitter.

"IRMA GARCIA IS HER NAME and she died a HERO."

Read more: Meghan Markle visits Texas school shooting memorial to 'to offer her condolences as a mother'

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Mrs Irma's colleague Eva Mireles, 44, was also killed in Tuesday's shooting.

The pair taught fourth grade together - the equivalent of year five in the UK.

Ms Mireles was married to a policeman and they had a daughter.

Ramos, 18, entered Robb Elementary school, armed with two military-style rifles, after shooting his grandmother.

He opened fire, killing nineteen young students as well as Ms Mireles and Mrs Garcia.

Several more are critically injured.

Officials did not immediately reveal a motive for Ramos, who was shot dead at the scene.

Read more: 'My son was not violent' insists mother of Texas gunman who killed 21 at school

Mr and Mrs Garcia had four children together
Mr and Mrs Garcia had four children together. Picture: Twitter

The attack has sparked renewed debate about the country's gun laws.

Senator Chris Murphy demanded answers, saying: "What are we doing?…This only happens in this country and nowhere else.

"Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day.

"Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate...if your answer is - as the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives - we do nothing?"

US President Joe Biden questioned: "When in God's name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?"

He added: "I am sick and tired.

"We have to act."