The grieving husband of teacher Irma Garcia who was killed in the Texas school shooting has died just two days after she was tragically shot dead.
The Garcia family was already grieving from Irma’s death in the Texas shooting that saw an 18-year-old gunman target her fourth grade classroom when her husband collapsed and died at home, a family member said.
‘Died of a broken heart’
Joe Garcia, 50, dropped off flowers at his wife’s memorial on Thursday morning in Uvalde, Texas, and returned home, where he “pretty much just fell over” and died, his nephew John Martinez told The New York Times.
The couple had been married for 24 years and had four children together, aged 23, 19, 15, and 13.
The couple’s oldest child, Cristian, is a Marine, and their other son, Jose, attends Texas State University. Their eldest daughter, Lyliana, is a high school sophomore, and her younger sister is in the seventh grade.
Mr Martinez told The Detroit Free Press that the family was struggling to grasp that while the couple’s oldest son trained for combat, it was his mother who was shot to death.
He told the newspaper: “Stuff like this should not be happening in schools.”
In a GoFundMe page shared online by the couple’s family, cousin Debra Garcia Austin wrote that Joe passed away “as a result of a medical emergency”, adding that she believed he suffered from a broken heart.
Ms Austin wrote: “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.”
The school year, scheduled to end on Thursday, was Mrs Garcia’s 23rd year of teaching — all of it at Robb Elementary School.
During her career she was named the school’s teacher of the year and in 2019 she was the recipient of the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Education from Trinity University.
Her colleague Allison McCullough praised her for her knowledge and patience when she was named teacher of the year, writing: “Mrs Irma Garcia was my mentor when I began teaching.
“The wealth of knowledge and patience that she showed me was life changing.”
For five years she co-taught with Eva Mireles, who also was killed in the attack.
Deadliest school shooting since 2012
The motive for the massacre, which is the United States’ deadliest school shooting since the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut, remains under investigation, with authorities saying the gunman, Salvador Ramos, had no known criminal or mental health history.
Mr Ramos killed 19 pupils and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Texas after walking inside unimpeded through an apparently unlocked door.
When the authorities went inside the classroom moments after the shooting, Mr Martinez said they had found Mrs Garcia’s body “embracing children in her arms pretty much until her last breath.”
He told the Times: “She had treated her students as if they were her own children.”
Authorities said the gunman was inside the classroom for more than an hour before he was killed in a shootout with law enforcement officers.
The rampage rocked a country already weary from gun violence and shattered the community of Uvalde, a largely Latino town of some 16,000 people about 75 miles from the Mexican border.