Girl, 16, orphaned after Uvalde school shooting leaves powerful tribute to her parents

30 May 2022, 08:44 | Updated: 30 May 2022, 08:50

The orphaned daughter of Irma and Joe Garcia paid a powerful tribute to her parents
The orphaned daughter of Irma and Joe Garcia paid a powerful tribute to her parents. Picture: Gofundme/Alamy

By Asher McShane

A teenager who lost both her parents after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, has paid a powerful tribute to her mum and dad, promising they ‘will not be forgotten.’

Lyliana Garcia’s mother, teacher Irma Garcia, 48, was shot dead in the massacre at the elementary school in Texas.

Her father Joe Garcia, 50, died days later of a heart attack - just a few days after Salvador Ramos massacred 19 children and two teachers at the school.

At the site of her mother’s grave, a moving tribute has been left that reads: “Dad, I know this was too much for you. Your heart could not take it.

“I will spend the rest of my life fighting for you and mom. Your names will not be forgotten. Your daughter, Lyliana.”

Irma Garcia was one of the 21 people killed in the massacre, while Joe died of a heart attack just hours after laying flowers at his wife's memorial.

Read more: Biden meets families of Texas school shooting victims as US investigate police response

On Thursday, Joe visited the memorial site to the victims of the horrific massacre. He was filmed leaving a large vase of red roses, two days after his wife was killed.

He wept as he left tributes to his wife of nearly 25 years. Just days later he himself had died of a heart attack.

Well-wishers have raised $2.6m for the family, after a fund was set up that aimed to raise $10,000 in support of their children.

The crowdfunding effort was started by Irma's cousin, Debra Austin, who wrote “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.”

$2.6m has been raised for the family
$2.6m has been raised for the family. Picture: GoFundme

US President Joe Biden shared his grief with the shattered community of Uvalde, mourning privately for three hours with the anguished families of the 19 schoolchildren and two teachers killed by a gunman.

Faced with chants of "do something" as he left the church service, Mr Biden pledged: "We will."

At Robb Elementary School, Mr Biden visited a memorial of 21 white crosses - one for each of those killed - and first lady Jill Biden added a bouquet of white flowers to those already placed in front of the school sign.

The couple then viewed individual altars erected in memory of each student, the first lady touching the children's photos as they moved along the row.

'America's problem with guns is so woven into its history.'

After visiting the memorial, Mr Biden attended a Mass at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where several victims' families are members, and one of the families was in attendance.

Speaking directly to the children in the congregation, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller tried to assuage the fears of the youngsters, some appearing about the same age as the victims.

"You have seen the news, you have witnessed the tears of your parents, friends," he said, encouraging them not to be afraid of life. "You are the best reminders to us that the lives of the little ones are important."

As Mr Biden departed the church to meet privately with family members, a crowd of about 100 people began chanting "do something". Mr Biden answered "we will" as he got into his car.

It was his only public comment during seven hours in Uvalde.

Mr Biden later tweeted that he grieves, prays and stands with the people of Uvalde. "And we are committed to turning this pain into action," he said.

The visit to Uvalde was Mr Biden's second trip in as many weeks to console a community in loss after a mass shooting.

He travelled to Buffalo, New York, on May 17 to meet victims' families after a gunman killed 10 black people at a supermarket.

Both shootings and their aftermath put a fresh spotlight on the nation's entrenched divisions and its inability to forge consensus on actions to reduce gun violence.