Relatives of Joe Garcia, the husband of Irma Garcia, one of the two teachers murdered in the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, say that he died of a broken heart.
“I truly believe Joe died of a broken heart and losing the love of his life of more than 25 years was too much to bear,” Debra Austin, Irma’s cousin wrote on a GoFund Me page dedicated to the couple’s four surviving children.
“The Garcia family says they believe Joe Garcia truly died of a broken heart,” KHOU reported.
Joe and Irma Garcia had been married for 24 years. They had four children: Cristian, 23; Jose, 19; Lyliana, 16; and Alysandra, 12. “Cristian is at military boot camp while the couple’s second son, Jose, attends Texas State University,” The Daily Mail reported.
Only hours before his death, Garcia visited a memorial for his wife on Thursday morning, carrying a large vase of red roses. He reportedly loved barbecuing with his wife and enjoying music with her.
Joe Garcia visited his wife's memorial this morning to place flowers on a cross with her name on it. Joe is the husband to Irma Garcia. Not long after Joe visited Irma's memorial, he suffered a heart attack and died.
— KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) May 26, 2022
In 2019, Irma Garcia was selected as a finalist for a Trinity University prize recognizing excellence in teaching. Joe, also a teacher, reportedly loved barbecuing with Irma and enjoyed music.
When Irma’s body was found at Robb Elementary School, she was holding a child to protect them from the shooting, the family stated.
“Irma was a wife, a mother of 4, a cousin, a sister a daughter, an aunt and a wonderful person,” Austin wrote. “She would literally do anything for anybody……no questions asked. She loved her classroom kids and died trying to protect them.”
At a mass on Thursday night at which three of the children were present, Father Eduardo Morales blessed them, “We are your family. Your mother and father will always find a way to take care of you.”
“Jose, 19, said his mother ‘treated her students as her own’ and decorated her classrooms with college memorabilia, to inspire them to reach their academic potential,” The Daily Mail reported.
“She wanted to instill that in their brains,” Jose said. “They were her lifeblood. She loved engaging with children and teaching them. She loved her job and she loved her co-workers.”
“Dying from grief, known as broken heart syndrome, is caused by a surge of stress hormones, according to the American Heart Association, that is usually caused by an emotionally stressful event,” CBS News noted. “The death of a loved one is a common reason for the stress-induced cardiomyopathy. According to the association, it is often misdiagnosed as a heart attack because of similar symptoms. Both attacks display a dramatic change in rhythm, but there are no blocked arteries in broken heart syndrome.”