The day after a student went on a shooting rampage at a Texas high school, a Houston-area community grappled with a horrific reality that has unfolded in so many other places across the nation.
On Friday morning, a 17-year-old student armed with a shotgun and a pistol stormed Santa Fe High School, about 30 miles southeast of Houston, and opened fire in an art class, officials said.
The gunman killed 10 people and wounded 10 others, including a school resource officer who was left in critical condition, police said, before surrendering to the officers who confronted him.
Of those killed, eight were students and two were teachers, Santa Fe Independent School District Superintendent Leigh Wall said in a letter to parents.
“Our community has suffered a terrible tragedy,” Wall wrote. “We are all feeling the overwhelming grief of this horrific event.”
Late Saturday afternoon, officials identified those killed as teachers Glenda Perkins and Cynthia Tisdale, and students Jared Black, Shana Fisher, Christian Riley Garcia, Aaron Kyle McLeod, Angelique Ramirez, Sabika Sheikh, Christopher Jake Stone and Kimberly Vaughan.
Santa Fe High School became the latest scene of carnage in what has become anationalepidemicofmassshootings. For the second time in the past three months, the victims were children and their teachers.
The tragedy prompted an outpouring of grief and outrage — a candlelight vigil, statements of sympathy and anger from elected officials, heart-rending posts from relatives of the deceased — as well as, for some, a quiet resignation that the previously unthinkable had morphed into an inevitability.
“It’s been happening everywhere,” one Santa Fe student, Paige Curry, said with a shrug after the shooting. “I’ve always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too.”
At Santa Fe High School, it happened with less than two weeks to go before the end of the school year.
Pagourtzis made his first court appearance Friday evening, a little more than 10 hours after the massacre. He spoke quietly, saying, “Yes, sir,” when asked if he wanted a court-appointed attorney. After the brief hearing, Pagourtzis was led away.
Police said Pagourtzis gave a statement admitting responsibility for the shooting, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed in court. They said that Pagourtzis told police that he went into the school wearing a trench coat and wielding two guns, intent on killing people.
The affidavit states that the 17-year-old told police that “he did not shoot students he did like so he could have his story told.”
The two guns used in the shooting belong to Pagourtzis’s father, according to Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who said it was unclear if the father knew his son had taken them. Unlike many other mass shootings carried out with high-powered rifles such as the AR-15, this one, authorities said, included relatively common weapons.
Police said they also found explosive devices inside the school and at locations off campus.
Police had been busy individually escorting Santa Fe students back on campus Saturday so they could retrieve cars and belongings they had left behind as they fled the school Friday, he said.
“Our officers have been very, very resilient,” Braun told reporters. “I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet as to allowing the emotions to take control.”
Santa Fe High School, home of the Indians, had won a statewide award for its safety program. As an ominous precursor to Friday’s shooting, the school had experienced a false alarm about an active shooter in February, an event that attracted a massive emergency response and the chaotic arrival of fearful parents.