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Grieving husband of a teacher killed in Texas school shooting dies from a heart attack

Joe and Irma Garcia were high school sweethearts who had been married for 24 years.
/ Source: TODAY

The husband of Irma Garcia, one of two fourth grade teachers who were killed during Tuesday’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, has died from a heart attack.

Joe Garcia’s death comes just days after the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children and two adults were killed

On Thursday, John Martinez, who is Irma Garcia’s nephew, confirmed the death of Joe Garcia in a phone call with NBC News.

Irma and Joe Garcia were high school sweethearts and had been married for 24 years.
Irma and Joe Garcia were high school sweethearts and had been married for 24 years.Fuhknjo / Twitter

“I was told he went to go deliver flowers for Irma at the memorial for her,” Martinez explained. “When he got home, he was at home for no more than three minutes after sitting down on a chair with the family he just fell over. They tried doing chest compressions and nothing worked.”

He continued, “The ambulance came and they couldn’t, they couldn’t bring them back.”

Martinez shared that he learned this information after his younger brother called him and only told him to “‘Please pray for Joe.’” 

He said his brother did not have all the details about what happened. Martinez added, “And then I get a call I think, no more than 30 minutes later with him crying and saying he didn’t make it.”

Irma Garcia’s nephew told NBC News: “I don’t even know how to feel. I don’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it.”

Martinez first posted about Joe Garcia’s death on Twitter on Thursday morning. 

“EXTREMELY heartbreaking and come with deep sorrow to say that my Tia Irma’s husband Joe Garcia has passed away due to grief,” he wrote. “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.”

According to Irma Garcia’s bio on the Robb Elementary School website, she was married to her husband for 24 years. They shared four children together.

“I love to BBQ with my husband, listen to music, and take country cruises to Concan,” her introduction on the website said.

Irma Garcia spent all 23 years of her teaching career working at Robb Elementary School.

She was gunned down along with fellow fourth grade teacher Eva Mireles. The two educators taught together for five years. 

One of Irma Garcia’s sons, Christian, shared with NBC News that police told him his mother was killed while shielding her students from the gunman. Mireles’ daughter, Adalynn Ruiz, said in a couple of emotional social media posts that her mother also died trying to protect her students. 

A friend of Irma Garcia’s referred to her as “Just a beautiful soul” when speaking with NBC News’ Morgan Chesky. 

“Someone who loved children. Someone you respected because she was just a good human being,” the friend said.  

In a news conference on Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott confirmed that the suspected gunman was an 18-year-old man who attended a nearby high school. He was fatally shot by law enforcement after the massacre.