WALDE, Texas – The mourners gathered Wednesday at a Catholic church to say goodbye to Rob primary school teacher Irma Garcia – who died in a shooting at Uwalde Primary School, Texas – and her husband Joe – who died two days later from a heart attack.
Nineteen children and two teachers – Garcia and her teacher, 44-year-old Eva Mireles – were killed on May 24 when an 18-year-old gunman broke into their classroom. The litany of visits, funerals and burials began on Monday and will last until mid-June.
Two black hearses with Garcia coffins in a procession led by police and civilian motorcycles arrived at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Wednesday. The flower-covered boxes carried sticks past the phalanges of police in uniforms and priests in white robes.
Mourners, some cried and hugged, quietly went inside.
Irma, 48, finished her 23rd year as a teacher at Robb Elementary School. In a letter posted on the school’s website earlier this school year, Garcia told her students that she and Joe have four children – a Marine, a college student, a high school student and a 7th grader.
50-year-old Joe fell and died after dropping flowers at his wife’s memorial. His obituary noted that he and Irma “began their relationship in high school and they grew into a love that was beautiful and good.” On June 28, they would have lived 25 years. Joe died after planting flowers to his wife’s memorial.
On Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of people remembered Amery Garza, a smiling fourth-grader whose funeral was the first since the massacre. The funeral of 10-year-old Maite Rodriguez took place Tuesday night.
At Amer’s funeral the mourning Erica Santiago, her husband and their two children were in purple shirts adorned with images of the victims. She described Amery as “a nice little girl who smiled a lot” and who was “so humble and charismatic but full of life.”
Investigators are continuing to look for answers on how police responded to the shooting, and the U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing law enforcement actions.
The blame for the painful delay in killing an armed man – even if parents outside asked police to flee and children in a panic called 911 inside – was blamed on school district police chief Pete Aredondo. The state police chief said last week that Arendonda had made the “wrong decision” not to break into the classroom, believing the gunman had been barricaded inside and the children were not in danger.
On Wednesday, Aredonda told CNN that he spoke regularly with investigators from the Texas Department of Public Safety, which contradicts allegations by state law enforcement that he has stopped cooperating.
Authorities said gunman Salvador Ramos legally purchased two guns shortly 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 allowed him to buy a weapon. under federal law.
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