Irma Garcia’s family was already grappling with her death in the Texas school shooting that targeted her fourth-grade class and killed her co-teachers and 19 students.
Then, two days after the attack, her grieving husband collapsed and died of a heart attack at home, a family member said.
Joe Garcia, 50, dropped flowers at his wife’s memorial in Uvalde, Texas on Thursday morning and returned home, where he “fell too much” and died, his nephew John Martinez told The New York Times.
The couple, married for 24 years, had four children.
Martinez told The Detroit Free Press that the family was struggling to understand why his mother was shot and killed when the couple’s eldest son trained for combat in the Marine Corps.
“Things like this should not happen in schools,” he told the newspaper.
The Archdiocese of San Antonio and the Rushing-Estes-Knowles morgue confirmed Joe Garcia’s death to the Associated Press. The Associated Press was unable to independently reach members of the Garcia family on Thursday.
The motive for the massacre – the nation’s deadliest school shooting since the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut – remained under investigation, with officials saying the 18-year-old gunman had no criminal or mental health history.
The violence left a country already troubled by gun violence and shattered the community of Uvalde, a Latino town of about 16,000 people, some 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the Mexican border.
Garcia loved barbecue, 48-year-old Irma wrote in an online letter to her students at Rob’s Elementary School. Irma enjoyed listening to music and traveling to Concun, a community on the banks of the Frio River about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Uvalde.
The couple’s eldest child, Christiane, is a Marine. The couple’s second son, Jose, studies at Texas State University. His eldest daughter, Liliana, is a high school student, while his younger sister is in seventh grade.
The school year, ending Thursday, was Irma’s 23rd year of teaching – it was all in Rob. She was previously named School Teacher of the Year and was the recipient of the Trinity Award 2019 for Excellence in Education from Trinity University.
“Mrs. Irma Garcia was my mentor when I started teaching,” wrote her colleague Alison McCullough when Irma was named Teacher of the Year. “The wealth of knowledge and patience he showed me was life changing.”
For five years, Irma co-educated with Eva Miracles, who was also killed.
The suspect, Salvador Ramos, was inside the classroom for more than an hour when he was killed in a shootout with law enforcement, officials said.
“Welcome to fourth grade! We have a wonderful year ahead!” Miralles wrote in an online letter to incoming students last year.
Associated Press journalist Jamie Stengel in Dallas contributed to this report.
More information about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings.
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