Fourth-grade teacher Irma Garcia was killed Tuesday in her Texas elementary school classroom, along with another teacher and 19 students. Two days later, a relative reported that her grieving husband had also died.
The motive for the massacre — the deadliest school shooting in the United States since the one in Newtown, Connecticut, nearly a decade ago — remains under investigation, and authorities say the 18-year-old shooter had no prior criminal record or history. of mental health.
The suspected shooter, Salvador Ramos, was in the classroom at Robb de Uvalde Elementary School for more than an hour before he was killed in a shootout with law enforcement, authorities said Thursday.
The massacre has rocked a country already overwhelmed by gun violence, and the death toll has continued to rise in Uvalde, a predominantly Latino city of about 16,000 people located about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the city. border with Mexico.
Joe Garcia, 50, had left some flowers in the offering for his wife Thursday morning, The New York Times reported. Returning home “he practically collapsed” and died of a heart attack, his nephew John Martinez told the newspaper.
The Archdiocese of San Antonio and Rushing-Estes-Knowles Mortuary confirmed Joe Garcia’s death to The Associated Press. Family members of Garcia could not be reached independently on Thursday.
Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller will celebrate Mass Thursday night at Sacred Heart Church in Uvalde for the Garcia family and community, the archdiocese said.
The couple, married for 24 years, had four children. The oldest, Cristian, is enlisted in the Marine Corps, and his brother Jose attends Texas State University. Her eldest daughter, Liliana, is a sophomore in high school, while her little sister is in the 7th grade.
Martinez, the Garcias’ nephew, told The Detroit Free Press that the family was having a hard time coping with the fact that while the teacher’s son is training for combat, it was his mother who was shot to death.
“Things like this shouldn’t be happening in schools,” he told the newspaper. “That’s wrong. Not well”.
The Garcia family loved barbecue, Irma, 48, wrote in a letter posted online to her students at Robb Elementary. The teacher liked to listen to music and take country walks to Concan, a community along the Frio River, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Uvalde.
The school year, which ended Thursday, was the 23rd Irma Garcia had taught, all at Robb Elementary School. She had previously been named teacher of the year and in 2019 she was awarded the Trinity Award for Excellence in Education from Trinity University.
“Mrs. Irma Garcia was my mentor when I started teaching,” her colleague Allison McCullough wrote when Irma was named teacher of the year. “The wealth of knowledge and patience she showed me changed my life.”
For five years, Irma Garcia had taught classes together with Eva Mireles, who was also murdered.
“Welcome to 4th grade! We have a fantastic year ahead!” Mireles wrote in a letter posted on the school’s website to her new students last year.
Associated Press writer Jamie Stengle in Dallas contributed to this report.