Joe Garcia, husband of teacher Irma Garcia who died in the Robb Elementary school shooting, died of a ‘broken heart,’ according to his nephew.
John Martinez, Garcia’s nephew, confirmed the news with a tweet the morning of May 26.
“EXTREMELY heartbreaking and come with deep sorrow to say 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, PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR FAMILY, God have mercy on us, this isn’t easy,” Martinez wrote. The tweet features a photo of Joe with his arm around Irma.
In an exclusive for People, Martinez said that he believed that his uncle died of “a broken heart.” He also noted that chest compressions were performed in an attempt to revive his uncle from what is believed to be cardiac arrest.
Broken heart syndrome, also known as stress cardiomyopathy or takotsubo syndrome, can occur when someone “experiences sudden acute stress that can rapidly weaken the heart muscle,” according to Hopkins Medicine. It is fatal 1-2% of the time.
Irma and Joe Garcia were high school sweathearts who had four children together. Irma had been teaching at Robb for 23 years when she sacrificed her life trying to protect one of her students, who also died in the country’s 27th school shooting of 2022.
"She was a light in every room. She always had joy in her. She was a light to the world. I just really do want her to be remembered as someone who put her life on the line, to the very last moment. She sacrificed herself,” Martinez told People.
Martinez created a GoFundMe to help with Irma’s funeral costs, and Debra Austin, a cousin of Irma’s set up a GoFundMe to help with expenses for both Irma and Joe’s expenses and their families.
“Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers,” Austin wrote on the GoFundMe.
“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.”