Uvalde mass shooting: US mourns after 19 children, two teachers killed
Families and the country are left to grapple with grief after a shooting in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 children and two teachers dead.
Scott L. Hall, Jessica Boller and Anastasiia Riddle, USA TODAY
Joe Garcia had just placed flowers Thursday morning at the memorial site of his high school sweetheart Irma Garcia—- his wife of 24 years and mother of their four children.
Then he had a fatal heart attack.
Irma Garcia was one of two fourth grade teachers and 19 children who died Tuesday in a hail of gunfire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
“What happened was my Uncle Joe went to go leave flowers for my Tia (Aunt) Irma, his wife, (at the school site) and whenever he got back, he sat down at the kitchen table with his entire family, and after 3 minutes, he just fell over. I’m told my mom was giving him chest compressions. It happened around 10 o’clock. I know my little brother was there,” nephew John Martinez of San Marcos, Texas, told the Free Press in a telephone interview.
“They called the ambulance and I was told they couldn’t bring him back. They took him to Uvalde Memorial Hospital. I’m not sure if they confirmed his death at the house or the hospital,” Martinez told the Free Press after getting updates from his father.
“The pain doesn’t stop,” John Martinez tweeted at 1:03 p.m. Thursday, acknowledging the loss of both his aunt and uncle in a close-knit family.
“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,” he said in another tweet a few minutes earlier.
Now the four Garcia children — ages 23, 19, 15 and 13 — are planning two funerals, Martinez told the Free Press.
Other family members are tied up with crucial matters now and unable to speak with the news media, Martinez said.
Joe Garcia turned 50 in April. Irma Garcia was 46.
Martinez is monitoring when to drive the 2½ hours to the funeral services for his aunt, which his father said will be planned for next week in Uvalde, which is where John Martinez also grew up.
“Honestly, it genuinely feels like I got hit by another truck. It just doesn’t make sense,” Martinez said. “My heart hurts so bad for my four cousins. I did hear from my little brother that my dad’s chest was hurting, as well. My parents lost family and their best friends.”
He added, “My Tio (Uncle) Joe would work extra hours just to provide for his family. They really are a true American family. They instilled great values and morals in their kids.”
There is an Irma Garcia GoFundMe page, which reached $159,266 by 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Martinez said philanthropist Bill Pulte has played a crucial role in providing support for the family.
“I will start crying with the amount of help I’ve gotten from him,” Martinez said. “His Twitter followers have been so generous. And as soon as he found out about my Uncle Joe, he messaged me immediately to ask how he could help. It’s something we’ll be forever grateful for.”
Ernie Zuniga, a news anchor at KABB Fox TV San Antonio tweeted, “Joe Garcia, the husband of Irma Garcia, one of two teachers shot and killed in Uvalde, TX on Tuesday, has reportedly suffered a fatal heart attack. Joe and Irma were high school sweethearts and married 24 years. They leave behind four children.”
Pulte, reached Thursday, told the Free Press, “To have their mom murdered and then their father die of a heart attack within 48 hours is just unfathomable, so we will be putting the full force of Twitter Philanthropy behind the GoFundMe to help pay for the family and the four children’s expenses.”
A link to the fundraising pages on GoFundMe for children killed Tuesday may be found here or at https://www.gofundme.com/c/act/donate-to-texas-elementary-school-shooting-relief
The verified victim list of recipients, which is growing, so far includes these students:
Five community organizations raising money are also listed on the site as verified.
More: GoFundMe for teacher killed in Texas shatters goal with help from Michigan philanthropist
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