Uvalde turns out for funeral of hero teacher who shielded her students from shooter’s bullets and her devoted husband who died of a broken heart: Their four orphaned children comfort each other
- Irma, 48, and Joe Garcia were laid to rest on Wednesday, surrounded by their four children and the Uvalde community
- The fourth-grade teacher was one of the 21 who lost their lives after Salvador Ramos, 18, barricaded their classroom and began shooting, killing 19 kids
- She was found clutching children to her body to protect them from bullets, alongside co-teacher Eva Mireles, 44
- Her husband was last seen attending the memorial at the school before he later collapsed and died of a broken heart
- At Wednesday’s funeral, Irma’s two boys Christian and Jose were seen carrying their parents’ caskets. Their daughters Alysandra and Lyliana were also there
- The couple, who has been married for 24 years, were high school sweethearts and their caskets have matching flowers on them
Uvalde teacher Irma Garcia and her husband were laid to rest on Wednesday in a heartbreaking ceremony as the community continues to mourn to loss of 21 lives.
Nineteen children and two teachers – Garcia and her co-teacher, 44-year-old Eva Mireles – were killed when an 18-year-old gunman burst into their classroom last week.
Irma, 48, was found inside her fourth-grade classroom clutching children to her body to protect them inside Robb Elementary School.
Her husband, Joe, was last seen attending the memorial for the victims of the shooting before collapsing and dying of a heart attack two days after the massacre.
He was said to have died from a broken heart.
Today, their caskets were adorned with matching white flowers as they were laid to rest, surrounded by their four children and the Uvalde community.
Irma, 48, and Joe Garcia were laid to rest on Wednesday, surrounded by their children and the Uvalde community
The couple’s daughter Alysandra (pictured in flowery dress, left) and youngest son Jose (pictured in a white shirt and black tie, right) were seen placing flowers on their parents grave during the ceremony
The couple had been married for 24 years and were high school sweethearts
Alysandra and the oldest sibling Christian (pictured in flowery dress and dress blues) were seen paying their last respects to their parents caskets on Wednesday
Christian and Jose (pictured third back, right) were pallbearers and helped carrying the caskets inside Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Somber mourners were seen wiping away tears as the couple’s sons served as pallbearers and helped carry the caskets into the private ceremony at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Among the mourners was US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
Children clutched toys as adults held red roses to place over the caskets afterward at the burial service.
The large crowd gathered quietly around the gravesites with their heads bowed as they paid their last respects.
Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, who presided over the ceremony, honored the educator for protecting her students like she would her own children.
He said: ‘Because you were there with them…You did what you would have done with your own children. You took care of them until your last breath.’
Most of the readings during Wednesday’s service and the homily were in English, with Siller offering some words in Spanish.
‘We are all hurting,’ he said. ‘In the midst of so much, please, please people need comfort, people need you…Let us all foster a culture of peace.’
On the school’s website, Garcia’s biography read how ‘excited’ she was to begin her 23rd year of teaching.
She also expressed pride in her children, who she said were gearing up for Marine boot camp, attending Texas State University, and enjoying another year of high or middle school.
The teacher also said in her biography that she loved to ‘BBQ with my husband, listening to music, and take country cruises to Cancun.’
Siller also reportedly mentioned the slain children’s name several times during his homily, according to the New York Post. He was also seen hugging and comforting churchgoers as armed police guarded the church doors.
Teary-eyed mourners carried roses and stuffed animals as they waited outside the church
A larger crowd gathered to honor the fallen fourth-grade teacher and her husband, who is said to have died from a broken heart
Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, who presided over the ceremony, was seen comforting mourners outside the church
The religious leader was seen surrounded by armed guards at the funeral on Wednesday
Their four children were said to not have addressed mourners during the service, the New York Post reported.
‘It’s a tragedy. It’s a tragic tragedy,’ Joe’s cousin Marina Rodriguez told the Post. ‘It’s heartbreaking, heart wrenching – to lose both of your parents.’
The couple’s 15-year-old daughter Lyliana had left a heartfelt letter outside the memorial at the school just days after the shooting, writing that she would not let her parents be forgotten.
‘Dad, I know this was too much for you. Your heart could not take it,’ she penned. ‘I will spend the rest of my life fighting for you and mom. Your names will not be forgotten.’
The couple have been married for 24 years after meeting in high school, their obituary said.
‘[Their relationship] flourished into a love that was beautiful and kind,’ the obituary read.
Irma (right) was gunned down inside her classes at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, alongside her co-teacher Eva Mireles, 44 (left). Both women were found shielding children with their bodies from the gunman
In her school biography, Irma expressed how proud she was her children, including her son Jose, who was beginning school at Texas State
The four children (pictured: three youngest) attended the funeral but were said to have kept to themselves
The litany of visitations, funerals and burials began Monday and will continue into mid-June.
On Tuesday afternoon, hundreds turned out to remember Amerie Jo Garza, a smiling fourth-grader whose funeral Mass was the first since the massacre. The funeral for 10-year-old Maite Rodriguez was Tuesday night.
At Amerie’s funeral, mourner Erika Santiago, her husband and their two children wore purple shirts adorned with images of the victims. She described Amerie as ‘a nice little girl who smiled a lot,’ and who was ‘so humble and charismatic but full of life.’
Investigators continue to seek answers about how police responded to the shooting, and the US Department of Justice is reviewing law enforcement actions.
Joe Garcia, in the grey t-shirt, is seen visiting the memorial to his wife of 24 years – his childhood sweetheart – on Thursday morning. He died of a heart attack shortly after
The Garcia children are seen on Thursday evening being comforted by the priest. Their mother was murdered in her classroom on Tuesday; their father died on Thursday morning from a heart attack
The blame for an excruciating delay in killing the gunman – even as parents outside begged police to rush in and panicked children called 911 from inside – was placed on the school district’s police chief, Pete Arredondo.
The director of state police last week said Arredondo made the ‘wrong decision’ not to breach the classroom, believing the gunman was barricaded inside and children weren’t at risk.
On Wednesday, Arredondo told CNN that he’s talking regularly with investigators from the Texas Department of Public Safety, contradicting claims from state law enforcement that he´s stopped cooperating.
Authorities have said the gunman, Salvador Ramos, legally purchased two guns not long before the school attack: an AR-15-style rifle on May 17 and a second rifle on May 20. He had just turned 18, permitting him to buy the weapons under federal law. Ramos was killed by law enforcement.
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