'They're great people. The entire family, they're all great people. They don't deserve this,' said John Martinez, Garcia's nephew.
A GoFundMe campaign for the family of Irma Garcia, one of the two teachers killed in the Ulvade, Texas, school shooting, and her husband, Joe Garcia, who died of a heart attack days later has raised more than $2.7 million within a week. Garcia, a fourth-grade teacher who had been teaching at Robb Elementary in Uvalde for 23 years, was killed in her classroom in the shooting—the deadliest school shooting in the state's history—last Tuesday along with her co-teacher of five years, Eva Mireles, and 19 of their young students. Two days later, Joe Garcia suffered a fatal heart attack, moments after he returned home from a trip to a memorial for the victims.
Two days after the Uvalde school shooter killed Irma Garcia, her husband of 24 years died of a heart attack.— NPR (@NPR) May 30, 2022
Now, a fundraiser has raised over $2.7 million for their 4 children.https://t.co/cttzYwUt8g
According to The Washington Post, the late couple—who were high school sweethearts—left behind four children: Cristian, 23; Jose, 19; Lyliana, 15; and Alysandra, 12. "Their family was an all-American family," John Martinez, Garcia's nephew, told the publication about his aunt, uncle and cousins. "They're great people. The entire family, they're all great people. They don't deserve this." Garcia's cousin Debra Austin, wrote on the fundraising campaign page she created that Garcia "a wife, a mother of 4, a cousin, a sister a daughter, an aunt and a wonderful person" who would "literally do anything for anybody... no questions asked."
My tia did not make it, she sacrificed herself protecting the kids in her classroom, i beg of you to keep my family including all of her family in y’all’s prayers , IRMA GARCIA IS HER NAME and she died a HERO. she was loved by many and will truly be missed. pic.twitter.com/2XpdJA0q8x— john martinez ❤️🔥 (@fuhknjo) May 25, 2022
"She loved her classroom kids and died trying to protect them," Austin added. "Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers... 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." The top donation to the fundraiser—more than $550,000—was brought over from a separate GoFundMe created by Martinez. The campaign also received several other high-dollar donations and got a boost on social media from Bill Pulte, a philanthropist and CEO of the investment firm Pulte Capital, after he encouraged his 3.2 million followers to donate to it.
Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia were two of the greatest teachers Uvalde, TX has ever known. Their classroom was full of fun, growth, giggles, teamwork, and, most of all, love. Their legacy will live in the hearts of our community forever. #uvaldestrong pic.twitter.com/Es95ZIURUi— Natalie Arias, M.Ed. (@natariastx) May 25, 2022
Speaking to the Detroit Free Press, Martinez said he was "elated" by the outpouring of support from across the country. "Please know, and let people know on behalf of the family, I'm more than grateful and elated at the overwhelming love and support, whether it be the kind words, the donations or even just spreading the word, it means a lot to us," he said. According to CNN affiliate WFAA, Joe and Irma Garcia's children attended mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde on Thursday night. "They were churchgoing people, always willing to help, always seeing what they could do in the community—not just their children," Father Eduardo Morales, the family's pastor, told the network.
"I hope that we remember how giving they were," Morales added. His words echo Austin's description of the couple. "Joe and Irma were amazing people and two of the most loving parents we as a family have ever known. They were so proud of all their kids," Austin wrote. "They are loved and missed beyond what words can explain. Thank you again from the entire family." Meanwhile, Martinez shared that authorities told his family Garcia used herself as a human shield to try save her students from the gunman.
Joe Garcia, the husband of Irma Garcia, one of the two teachers killed in the Uvalde massacre at Robb Elementary School, died on Thursday of a heart attack, his nephew said. The couple had been married for 24 years and had four children. https://t.co/tvLzZAiT0T— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 26, 2022
"I want her to be remembered as someone who sacrificed her life and put her life on the line for her kids," he said. "They weren't just her students. Those were her kids, and she put her life on the line, she lost her life to protect them. That's the type of person she was... Our family is just in shambles right now. Nobody expected any of this. It's heartbreaking."