Joe Garcia, the husband of fourth-grade teacher Irma Garcia, one of two teachers killed in the Robb Elementary School shooting Tuesday, died Thursday morning of a heart attack caused by grief, according to family members.
“EXTREMELY heartbreaking and come with deep sorrow to say that my Tia Irma’s husband Joe Garcia has passed away due to grief,” Garcia’s 21-year-old nephew John Martinez wrote in a post on Thursday. “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.”
Martinez said Irma, 46, and Joe Garcia, 50, were high school sweethearts and had been married for 24 years. They leave behind four children between the ages of 13 and 23, chron.com reported.
“No child should have to go through this, my heart breaks for them,” Martinez wrote.
Irma Garcia was in her 23rd year of teaching at Robb Elementary School, according to her biography on the school’s website. She loved to barbecue with Joe and the two loved listening to music. In 2019, Irma was named a finalist for the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching, which honors exceptional teachers in the San Antonio area.
Irma reportedly died trying to protect the children in her classroom. Martinez told the New York Timesthat Garcia was like a “second mom” to him and her students, adding that when officers entered the classroom where the massacre occurred, they had “found her body there, embracing children in her arms pretty much until her last breath.”
On Twitter Wednesday, Martinez called Irma a hero, writing “she passed away with children in her arms trying to protect them, those weren’t just her students they were her kids as well, she was teacher of the year, and was loved by so many, she’s gone but the world will never forget her name.”
Garcia’s co-teacher Eva Mireles was also killed in the attack, along with 19 children. Martinez told The New York Times that Joe went to drop off flowers at Irma’s memorial Thursday morning. When he returned, he “pretty much just fell over” and died of a heart attack, Martinez said.
Upon hearing the news, Sen. Ted Cruz offered his prayers on Twitter, writing “Absolutely devastating. Heidi and I are praying for the Garcia family.”
A GoFundMe has been created to help the family.
“Irma was a wife, a mother of 4, a cousin, a sister a daughter, an aunt and a wonderful person,” the fundraiser’s page stated. “She would literally do anything for anybody……no questions asked.”