At least one gunman opened fire at a Houston-area high school Friday, killing 10 people – most of them students- and wounding 10 others, authorities said, in the nation’s deadliest such attack since the massacre in Florida that gave rise to a campaign by teens for gun control.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called Friday’s shooting “one of the most heinous attacks that we’ve ever seen in the history of Texas schools.”
He says explosive devices including a molotov cocktail that had been found in the suspected shooter’s home and a vehicle as well as around the school and nearby.
Abbott says the suspect used a shotgun and .38-revolver, which were both legally owned by the suspect’s father. But it’s not clear whether the father knew his son had taken them.
The governor says the suspect said he originally intended to commit suicide but gave himself up and told authorities that he didn’t have the courage to take his own life.
Abbott said there are “one or two” other people of interest being interviewed about the shooting.
Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset says in a statement that the student, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, is being held without bond in the Galveston County jail on a capital murder charge.
Pagourtzis plays on the Santa Fe High School junior varsity football team, and is a member of a dance squad with a local Greek Orthodox church.
Abbott says there were few prior warnings about the suspected gunman, unlike in other recent mass shootings in Florida and a church in town near San Antonio.
Abbott says “the red-flag warnings were either non-existent, or very imperceptible” in the case of the suspected Santa Fe shooter.
Michael Farina, 17, said he was on the other side of campus when the shooting began and thought it was a fire drill. He was holding a door open for special education students in wheelchairs when a principal came bounding down the hall and telling everyone to run. Another teacher yelled out, “It is real.”
Students were led to take cover behind a car shop across the street from the school. Some still did not feel safe and began jumping the fence behind the shop to run even farther away, Farina said.
“I debated doing that myself,” he said.
Survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, took to social media to express outrage and heartbreak after the latest school shooting in Texas.
“My heart is so heavy for the students of Santa Fe High School. It’s an all too familiar feeling no one should have to experience. I am so sorry this epidemic touched your town – Parkland will stand with you now and forever,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas students Jaclyn Corin said in a tweet.
She also directed her frustration at President Donald Trump, writing “Our children are being MURDERED and you’re treating this like a game. This is the 22nd school shooting just this year. DO SOMETHING.”
Classmate David Hogg, who was also part of a grassroots movement with Corin who started #NeverAgain and helped mobilize hundreds of thousands in for gun reform rallies across the world, warned that politicians would soon descend on the Texas school acting like they care but are only looking to boost approval ratings.
Cameron Kasky echoed those warnings on Twitter: “Prepare to watch the NRA boast about getting higher donations. Prepare to see students rise up and be called ‘civil terrorists’ and crisis actors. Prepare for the right-wing media to attack the survivors.”
In Texas, senior Logan Roberds said he was near the school’s art room when he heard a fire alarm and left the building with other students. Once outside, Roberds said, he heard two loud bangs. He initially thought somebody was loudly hitting a trash can. Then came three more bangs.
“That’s when the teachers told us to run,” he said.
At that point, Roberds said, he told himself, “Oh my God, this is not fake. This is actually happening.”
Friday’s assault was the deadliest in Texas since a man with a semi-automatic rifle attacked a rural church late last year, killing more than two dozen people. The Parkland attack killed 17.