15-Yr-Old Dies Blocking Classroom Door from Santa Fe Shooter–His Favorite Bible Verse Proves God Will Be Exalted Still

After the tragic shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas that killed 10 on May 18, glimmers of hope for humanity are starting to shine through as stories of heroism surface.

One of those self-sacrificing heroes is Christian “Riley” Garcia.

According to the family’s pastor, Keenan Smith, the 15-year-old showed remarkable courage as he exerted every last ounce of strength he had to block an art classroom door and shield his peers from the shooter.

“He was against the door trying to help his teacher, trying to help another student, and trying to shield the others there,” Pastor Smith told CNN.

Tragically, it was a bold act that would cost Garcia his own life.

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“He was holding the door shut when the shooter was trying to gain access into that art room,” continued Smith. “The shooter shot through the door, taking his life.”

The pastor shared that he was spending time with Garcia’s family on Friday night when students were praising the brave teen for saving their lives. They knew Garcia certainly took a bullet that was meant for them.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”.~John 15:13

“That’s not what’s supposed to happen to a 15-year-old’s life that he has to make those decisions,” said Smith as he choked back tears discussing the Garcia family’s loss. “But he made them without even thinking about it, because it was his heart. This is who he was as an individual.”

Smith, who baptized Garcia, added, “He was a good kid, he was compassionate, he was loving, caring and caring for other people.”

While he knows nothing can erase the pain of the loss, he prays Garcia’s final sacrifice to save others brings some peace to his family.

“It doesn’t stop the void that will forever be there, but it does bring a measure of peace,” shared the pastor. “They (Garcia’s family) are praying and hoping that they will be able to be reunited with him and see their son.”

A memorial service for Garcia was held on Monday at Crosby Church where his picture was featured alongside his favorite scripture:

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.” ~Psalm 46:10

Wow. Even in death, Garcia — a mere 15-year-old — knew God would be exalted.

In this time of unthinkable tragedy, I pray the Garcia family may be granted the courage to be still, and know that even in this — He IS God.

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Kelsey Straeter
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Kelsey is an editor at Outreach. She’s passionate about fear fighting, freedom writing, and the pursuit of excellence in the name of crucifying perfectionism. Glitter is her favorite color, 2nd only to pink, and 3rd only to pink glitter.