Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 26, 2022 / 15:23 pm (CNA).
The husband of one of the nearly two dozen victims of a mass shooter in Texas died Thursday, reportedly of a heart attack as he was preparing for his wife’s funeral.
50-year-old Joe Garcia dropped off flowers at his wife’s memorial on Thursday morning, the New York Times reported. His nephew said that when he returned home, he collapsed.
Joe’s wife, 46-year-old Irma Garcia, was a 4th-grade teacher and one of the two adults killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, by an 18-year-old shooter May 24. The shooter also killed 19 children.
Garcia reportedly died while trying to protect her students.
Joe and Irma — reportedly high school sweethearts married for 24 years — leave behind four children: 23-year-old Cristian and three teenagers, Jose, Lyliana, and Alysandra.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio, who told CNA he met with Joe the day of the shooting, offered his condolences and prayers. He said a memorial Mass is set to take place at 6 p.m. CT at Sacred Heart Church in Uvalde, a four-minute drive from the elementary school.
We hold in prayer the three children of Irma Garcia, teacher killed in Uvalde. Her husband Jose died today of a massive heart attack. Today, Mass at 6pm Sacred Heart Church, Uvalde. We pray for his soul and for their beautiful children. Pain increases so love. Jose, Rest In Peace
— Archbishop Gustavo (@ABishopGustavo) May 26, 2022
“We hold in prayer the three children of Irma Garcia, teacher killed in Uvalde,” García-Siller wrote.
“Her husband Jose died today of a massive heart attack. Today, Mass at 6pm Sacred Heart Church, Uvalde. We pray for his soul and for their beautiful children. Pain increases so [does] love. Jose, Rest In Peace.”
John Martinez, the 21-year-old nephew of Joe and Irma Garcia, tweeted, “EXTREMELY heartbreaking and come with deep sorrow to say that my Tia 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.”
García-Siller told CNA on Wednesday that he met with the husband and the couple’s three teenaged children the day of the shooting. The family belonged to the community of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, he said.
“I was able to meet the husband of one of the teachers who was killed, and the two daughters and son,” García-Siller said of Irma Garcia’s family.
He met with them at the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center, as they waited to hear what had happened to the wife and mother.
“The husband showed a lot of strength,” he told CNA. The three teenage children, he said at the time, were devastated.
The Uvalde shooting comes fewer than two weeks after a gunman killed 10 people and injured three others on May 14 at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and another shooter killed one person and wounded five others on May 15 at a church in Laguna Woods, California.
Bishops across the country have responded with prayer and heartbrokenness as did Pope Francis. The U.S. bishops conference released a statement the day of the Uvalde shooting calling for prayer for the victims and wounded, as well as for the Uvalde community.
The incident is believed to be the worst school shooting since the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in which in the attacker killed 26.
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