Uvalde teacher Irma Garcia and her husband, Joe, were laid to rest on Wednesday in a heartbreaking ceremony as the community continues to mourn the loss of 21 lives.
Nineteen children and two teachers – Garcia and her classmate, 44-year-old Eva Mireles – were killed when an 18-year-old gunman burst into their classroom last week.
Irma, 48, was found in her fourth-grade classroom holding children by her body to protect them at Robb Elementary School.
Her husband, Joe, was last seen at the memorial for the victims of the shooting, before collapsing two days after the massacre and dying of a heart attack.
He would have died of a broken heart.
They leave behind four orphans.
Today their coffins were decorated with matching white flowers as they were buried, surrounded by their four children and the community of Uvalde.
Irma, 48, and Joe Garcia were laid to rest on Wednesday, surrounded by their children and the community of Uvalde
Oldest sibling Christian (pictured in dress blue) was seen on Wednesday paying his last respects to his parents
Mourners were seen wiping their tears as the coffins were carried to the private ceremony at Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Mourners were seen placing flowers on the couples’ graves during the ceremony
The couple had been married for 24 years and were sweethearts in high school
Pallbearers and helped carry the caskets of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Mourners were seen wiping their tears as the coffins were carried to the private ceremony at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Among the mourners was US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
Children grabbed toys while adults held red roses and placed them over the coffins at the funeral service.
The great crowd gathered silently around the graves with bowed heads as they paid their last respects.
Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, who presided over the ceremony, honored the educator for protecting her students as she would protect 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, and Siller offered some words in Spanish.
“We’re all in pain,” he said. “In the midst of so much, please, please, people need comfort, people need you… Let’s all foster a culture of peace.”
On the school’s website, Garcia’s biography stated how “excited” she was to begin her 23rd year of teaching.
She was also proud of her children, who she said were preparing for a Marine boot camp, attending Texas State University, and having another year of high or high school.
The teacher also said in her biography that she loved “barbecuing with my husband, listening to music and going on country cruises to Cancun.”
Siller also reportedly mentioned the name of the murdered children several times during his sermon, according to the report New York Post† He was also seen hugging and comforting churchgoers while armed police guarded the church doors.
Crying mourners with tears in their eyes 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 are said to have died of a broken heart
Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, who presided over the ceremony, saw mourners comforting outside the church
The religious leader was seen surrounded by armed guards at the funeral on Wednesday
Their four children would not have spoken to mourners during the service, the New York Post reported.
‘It’s a tragedy. It’s a tragic tragedy,” Joe’s niece Marina Rodriguez told the Post. “It’s heartbreaking, heartbreaking—to lose both your parents.”
The couple’s 15-year-old daughter, Lyliana, had left a heartfelt letter at the school memorial a few days after the shooting, saying she would not forget her parents.
“Dad, I know this was too much for you. Your heart couldn’t take it,” she wrote. “I’ll fight for you and Mama for the rest of my life. Your names will not be forgotten.’
The couple have been married for 24 years after meeting in high school, according to their obituary.
†[Their relationship] grew into a love that was beautiful and kind,” read the obituary.
Irma (right) was gunned down in her classes at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, along with her co-teacher Eva Mireles, 44 (left). Both women were found shielding children with their bodies from the gunman
In her school biography, Irma shared how proud she was of her children, including her son Jose, who went to school in the state of Texas.
The four children (photo: three youngest) attended the funeral, but would have remained on their own
The litany of visits, funerals and burials began Monday and will continue through mid-June.
On Tuesday afternoon, hundreds appeared to remember Amerie Jo Garza, a smiling fourth-grader whose funeral mass was the first since the massacre. The funeral of 10-year-old Maite Rodriguez was Tuesday evening.
At Amerie’s funeral, grieving Erika Santiago, her husband and their two children wore purple shirts with pictures of the victims. She described Amerie as “a lovely girl who smiled a lot” and “so humble and charismatic but full of life”.
Investigators continue to look for answers about how police responded to the shooting, and the US Department of Justice is reviewing law enforcement actions.
Joe Garcia, in the gray t-shirt, visits the monument to his wife of 24 – his childhood sweetheart – on Thursday morning. He died shortly afterwards of a heart attack
The Garcia children are comforted by the priest on Thursday evening. Their mother was murdered in her class on Tuesday; their father died of a heart attack on Thursday morning
Pete Arredondo, the school district police chief, was blamed for an excruciating delay in killing the gunman — even as parents outside begged police to rush in and children in panic called 911 from within.
The state police director last week said Arredondo had made the “wrong decision” not to breach the classroom, believing the gunman had been barricaded inside and children were not at risk.
On Wednesday, Arredondo told CNN that he regularly talks with investigators at the Texas Department of Public Safety, which contradicts claims by state law enforcement that he is no longer cooperating.
Authorities have said the gunman, Salvador Ramos, legally purchased two weapons 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, which enabled him to buy the guns. under federal law. Ramos was murdered by the police.