News ID: 215287
Published: 0349 GMT May 18, 2018

Texas school shooting: 10 dead, 10 hurt

Texas school shooting: 10 dead, 10 hurt

A nation plagued by a wrenching loop of mass school shootings watched the latest horror play out in this small Southeast Texas town Friday morning, as a young man armed with a shotgun and a .38 revolver smuggled under his coat opened fire on his high school campus, killing 10 people, many of them his fellow students, and wounding 10 more, the authorities said.

By the end of the day, a 17-year-old suspect, Dimitrios Pagourtzis — an introvert who had given off few warning signs — had surrendered and been taken into custody. Law enforcement officials said they found two homemade explosive devices left at the school during the rampage, nytimes.com wrote.

It was the worst school shooting since the February assault on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where a young man with an AR-15 rifle left 17 people dead and prompted a wave of nationwide, student-led protests calling on lawmakers to tighten gun laws.

It was barely after 7:30 a.m. at Santa Fe High School, about 35 miles southeast of Houston, when gunfire first resounded through the halls, the opening volley of yet another massacre at an American high school that would leave students, teachers and staff members shocked, and in some cases bloodied. But they were not necessarily surprised.

A video interview with one student, Paige Curry, spread across social media, an artifact of a moment when children have come to expect violence in their schools.

“Was there a part of you that was like, ‘This isn’t real, this is — this would not happen in my school?’” the reporter asked.

The young girl shook her head: “No, there wasn’t.”

“Why so?” the reporter asked.

“It’s been happening everywhere,” she said. “I felt — I’ve always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too.”

President Trump, in the East Room of the White House, expressed his solidarity with the people of Santa Fe, and said his administration would do “everything in our power” to protect schools and keep guns away from those who should not have them.

Trump had also vowed to take action after the Parkland shooting. At the time, the president, a member of the National Rifle Association who has strong political support from gun owners, said he would look at stricter background checks and raising the minimum age for buying an assault weapon, proposals that the group opposes.

He also pressed for an N.R.A.-backed proposal to arm teachers, and said he would favor taking guns away from potentially dangerous people.

 

But Trump did not press for action on any of those initiatives, and Congress did not follow through. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Friday that the Justice Department was proposing to ban so-called bump stocks through regulations rather than wait for Congress to act.

The authorities had not released the names of those who died in the shooting late Friday, but family and associates of some of the victims had begun to share their stories on social media. The family of Cynthia Tisdale, a teacher, said on Facebook that she had been killed in the shooting. And on the Facebook page of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States expressed condolences for the victims, which he said included a Pakistani exchange student named Sabika Sheikh.

The shooting in Texas began at the start of a school day when summer seemed just around the corner. The night before, seniors had gathered for a sunset dinner and a Powder Puff football game, according to the school’s website, and the baseball team had been playing in the regional quarterfinals.

Zachary Muehe, a sophomore, headed to school thinking about the late work he was supposed to submit before the end of the school year, and settled into his art class to work on a drawing project. He was engrossed in his phone, he said, when his class began to transform into a horror scene.

It started with a boom, and then one or two more. “I turned around and I saw the kid who’s in my football class, I see him every day, and I saw him with a shotgun,” Muehe said in a phone interview. “I saw him in a trench coat. My immediate thought was just get out.”

It was Pagourtzis, a youth he recognized as a football teammate who used the locker next to his. “He had one sawed-off shotgun and he had a pistol,” Muehe said. “He was wearing a trench coat with combat boots. He had a ‘Born to Kill’ shirt on.”

 

Pagourtzis, he said, began shooting as soon as he entered the classroom. “It was crazy watching him shoot and then pump,” Muehe said. “I remember seeing the shrapnel from the tables, whatever he hit, I remember seeing the shrapnel go past my face.”

Muehe immediately tried to escape. He and his friends went to a back door in the classroom, which leads to a small courtyard, but the door was locked. He then went to a ceramics closet that connects to another art classroom, and as he took one more look at the classroom behind him, he saw students lying on the ground.

“There was a girl on the ground,” Muehe said, “and he shot her in the head one or two times.” When  Muehe opened the door to the closet, he said, he found students from the next classroom hiding inside. He urged them to run, and began running himself. “I just started running, as fast as I could to the other side of the campus, where I could at least tell someone,” he said.

Kole Dixon, 16, a sophomore, said he was standing outside history class when the fire alarm suddenly went off. He sprinted out a side door, and heard gunshots in rapid succession over the sound of the fire alarm.

When the shooting stopped, Dixon said that friends told him that the gunman first entered an art classroom, said “Surprise!” and started shooting. Santa Fe is a town where a fear of hurricanes usually outweighs a fear of homicides, and residents seemed shocked by the scene that unfolded. Billie Scheumack, 68, said she saw students from the high school running, scared and clutching their phones, down her street, Tower Road, about a block from the school. A neighbor told her that some children had been shot.

“In this little town, you wouldn’t think something like this could happen,” Scheumack said.

In a news conference Friday, the authorities released few details of their encounter with  Pagourtzis, but Col. Steven C. McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said that police officers had responded quickly. At one point, Colonel McCraw said, a police chief rescued an officer who had been critically wounded. The TV station KHOU reported that the officer, John Barnes, had been hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the arm.

   
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