World

Texas shooting: The teachers who died trying to save their pupils

May 26, 2022
Irma Garcia (L) and Eva Mireles
Irma Garcia (L) and Eva Mireles

AUSTIN, Texas — "We have a wonderful year ahead of us!"

This sweet and simple line, written by fourth-grade teacher Eva Mireles at the start of the school year, is haunting now.

On Thursday, the last day of school, she and fellow teacher Irma Garcia should be packing up their shared classroom at Robb Elementary in the small Texan town of Uvalde, and preparing for the summer break.

Instead, their families are making funeral arrangements, after they were gunned down in a mass shooting, which also killed 19 of their young students.

In the days since Tuesday's attack, Garcia and Mireles' bravery has been praised - they were seen trying to shelter their students from the bullets.

Garcia was found by officers "embracing children in her arms pretty much until her last breath," her nephew John Martinez told the New York Times.

"She sacrificed herself protecting the kids in her classroom. She was a hero," he wrote on a fundraising page.

And Mireles' sister, Maggie, wrote that "Eva is truly the definition of a hero. She put her own fears aside to protect her students that day."

A classroom full of 'fun, giggles and love'

Garcia and Mireles had been a teaching team for five years, and had 40 years of experience between them.

A photo taken last month shows the pair in their classroom watching over students as they work on iPads, one giggling - he probably knows the photo is being taken.

"Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia were two of the greatest teachers Uvalde, [Texas] has ever known," Natalie Arias, an education specialist who lives in Uvalde wrote.

"Their classroom was full of fun, growth, giggles, teamwork, and, most of all, love."

As the outpouring of grief continues, there is also anger that yet another deadly school shooting has been allowed to happen.

It is legal to buy a gun at 18 in Texas, and according to US media, the attacker bought his - two AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition - last week, the day after his birthday.

"I'm furious that these shootings continue, these children are innocent, rifles should not be easily available to all," Eva Mireles' aunt, Lydia Martinez Delgado, said in a statement.

"This is my hometown, a small community of less than 20,000. I never imagined this would happen, especially to loved ones," she wrote.

Mireles' husband, Ruben Ruiz, is a school police officer. Two months ago he conducted an active shooter drill - which is common in US schools - at Uvalde High School. Little did he know that just weeks later, his own wife would be a victim to one.

The Washington Post reports that Ruiz rushed to Robb Elementary when he heard the news, and had to be held back by other officers as he desperately tried to get to his wife.

At least 185 children, educators and other people have been killed in US school attacks since the 1999 Columbine High massacre, according to data by the Washington Post.

There is even a unique memorial in Kansas for "fallen educators" that honours "those who lost their lives in the line of duty." Those words, more familiar when talking about soldiers, used here to describe murdered teachers. Now there are two more names to inscribe on the wall of remembrance. — BBC


May 26, 2022
930 views
HIGHLIGHTS
World
6 minutes ago

Tedros urges Pfizer to make oral COVID antiviral available more widely

World
12 minutes ago

World moving backward on eliminating hunger and malnutrition, UN report reveals

World
10 hours ago

Divided French parliament gives new PM tough time during first address