The fundraiser for the couple’s children has now raised more than $2m
Donations for the teacher who was killed during the school shooting in Texas this week and her husband, who died just two days later, have poured in over the last few days, raising more than $2m for the young family the pair leave behind.
Irma Garcia, 46, was one of the two faculty members at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde who was killed after an 18-year-old gunman broke into the school, barricaded the doors of a fourth-grade class and murdered 19 children by gunfire.
Just two days after the massacre at the school, her husband, Joe Garcia, 50, died from a heart attack, leaving behind four children, ages 23, 19, 15 and 13.
“I truly believe Joe died of a broken heart,” wrote Debra Austin, Irma Garcia’s cousin, on a GoFundMe page. “Losing the love of his life of more than 25 years was too much to bear.”
The fundraiser, intended to help the now orphaned children rebuild their lives after losing both their parents in less than a week, initially had an outset goal of collecting $10,000 (£7,911).
By Wednesday, they’d already well outpaced that original goal by collecting $170,000 (£134,493) in donations and by Friday morning, the page had received more than $2m (£1.6m), more than 200 times what they’d first been asking for.
On Thursday morning, Joe Garcia returned from having laid a large vase of red roses at a memorial for for the victims of Tuesday’s shooting when he reportedly collapsed, according to his nephew Jose Martinez.
“[He] pretty much just fell over,” Mr Martinez told The New York Times.
Later that day, at a mass held to commemorate the deceased parents, the family’s second oldest son, Jose, placed flowers on the church’s altar before he returned to his seat, where he continued to sob beside family members and friends.
The couple were remembered by family members as being the kind of people who “will make anyone feel loved no matter what,” and having “the purest hearts”.
“Lord god please on our family, my tias husband passed away this morning due to a heart attack at home he’s with his wife now,” wrote one of their nephews on Twitter.
Mr Martinez, the Joe Garcia’s nephew, wrote in a separate tweet: “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.”
“God have mercy on us, this isn’t easy,” he added.
Irma, as has been confirmed by local reports from some of the children who survived the brutal attack, reportedly died alongside her fellow teacher, 44-year-old Eva Mireles, trying to save her students’ lives.
This characterisation of the teacher was echoed by her cousin, who wrote on the fundraiser’s page that the 46-year-old educator “loved her classroom kids and died trying to protect them”.
“Irma Garcia is her name,” wrote the teacher’s nephew in a separate tweet following this week’s devastating news. “And she died a hero.”