Texas school shooting kills 10, deadliest since Parkland

A 17-year-old armed with a shotgun and a pistol opened fire at a Houston-area high school Friday, killing 10 people, most of them students, authorities said. It was the nation’s deadliest such attack since the massacre in Florida that gave rise to a campaign by teens for gun control.

Posted: May 18, 2018 10:57 AM
Updated: May 18, 2018 9:17 PM

SANTA FE, Texas (AP) — A 17-year-old armed with a shotgun and a pistol opened fire at a Houston-area high school Friday, killing 10 people, most of them students, authorities said. It was the nation’s deadliest such attack since the massacre in Florida that gave rise to a campaign by teens for gun control.

The suspected shooter, who was in custody on murder charges, also had explosive devices that were found in the school and nearby, said Gov. Greg Abbott, who called the assault “one of the most heinous attacks that we’ve ever seen in the history of Texas schools.”

Investigators offered no immediate motive for the shooting. The governor said the assailant intended to kill himself but gave up and told police that he did not have the courage to take his own life.

The deaths were all but certain to re-ignite the national debate over gun regulations, coming just three months after the Parkland, Florida, attack that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“It’s been happening everywhere. I’ve always kind of felt like that eventually it was going to happen here too,” Santa Fe High School student Paige Curry told Houston television station KTRK. “I don’t know. I wasn’t surprised. I was just scared.”

Another 10 people were wounded at the school in Santa Fe, a city of about 13,000 people roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Houston. The wounded included a school police officer who was the first to confront the suspect and got shot in the arm. Hospitals reported treating a total of 14 people for injuries related to the shooting.

Michael Farina, 17, said he was on the other side of campus when the shooting began. He heard a fire alarm and thought it was a 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.

The suspect was identified as Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who appeared to have no prior arrests or confrontations with law enforcement. A woman who answered the phone at a number associated with the Pagourtzis family declined to speak with the AP.

“Give us our time right now, thank you,” she said.

Pagourtzis made his initial court appearance Friday evening by video link from the Galveston County Jail. A judge denied bond and took his application for a court-appointed attorney.

He played on the junior varsity football team and was a member of a dance squad with a local Greek Orthodox church. Acquaintances described him as quiet and unassuming, an avid video game player who routinely wore a black trench coat and black boots to class.

The suspect obtained the shotgun and a .38-caliber handgun from his father, who owned them legally, Abbott said. It was not clear whether the father knew his son had taken them.

Investigators were determining whether the shotgun’s shortened barrel was legal, Texas Sen. John Cornyn said.

The assailant’s homemade explosives school included pipe bombs, at least one Molotov cocktail and pressure-cooker bombs similar to those used in the Boston Marathon attack, authorities said.

While cable news channels carried hours of live coverage, survivors of the Feb. 14 Florida attack took to social media to express grief and outrage.

“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 student 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.”

In Texas, senior Logan Roberds said he was near the school’s art room when he heard the 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.

Map locates Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, site of a fatal school shooting Friday.

At that point, Roberds said, he told himself, “Oh my God, this is not fake. This is actually happening.”

Roberds said additional gun-control measures are not needed, citing the need for defense against intruders.

“What are you going to do if some guy comes in your house and points a gun at you? You can’t do nothing with a knife,” he said.

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.

There were few prior clues about Pagourtzis’ behavior, unlike the shootings in Parkland and the church in Sutherland Springs, Abbott said, but the teen wrote in journals of wanting to carry out such an attack and then to end his own life.

“This young man planned on doing this for some time. He advertised his intentions but somehow slipped through the cracks,” Cornyn said.

In the aftermath of the Florida assault, survivors pulled all-nighters, petitioned city councils and state lawmakers, and organized protests in a grass-roots movement. Within weeks, state lawmakers adopted changes, including new weapons restrictions.

In late March, the teens spearheaded one of the largest student protest marches since Vietnam in Washington and inspired hundreds of other marches from California to Japan.

The calls for tighter gun controls have barely registered in gun-loving Texas — at least to this point.

Texas has some of the most permissive gun laws in the U.S. and just hosted the NRA’s annual conference earlier this month. In the run-up to the March primary election, gun control was not a main issue with candidates of either party. Republicans did not soften their views on guns, and Democrats campaigned on a range of issues instead of zeroing in on gun violence.

___

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington, D.C.; David Warren, Jamie Stengle and Diana Heidgerd in Dallas; Nomaan Merchant in Galveston; and Will Weissert and Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.

Terre Haute
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 74°
Robinson
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 71°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 74°
Rockville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 68°
Casey
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 76°
Brazil
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 74°
Marshall
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 74°
Hot and humid!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 147251

Reported Deaths: 7020
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook925324627
Lake9954423
DuPage9311475
Kane7856275
Will6923320
Winnebago309196
McHenry211597
St. Clair2017137
Kankakee130765
Madison103669
Rock Island103329
Kendall99621
Champaign94813
Boone60821
DeKalb57819
Peoria55628
Sangamon45032
Jackson33919
Randolph2887
McLean27713
Stephenson2765
Ogle2714
Clinton24217
Macon23522
LaSalle22617
Union19519
Whiteside19515
Grundy1735
Coles17217
Iroquois1625
Tazewell1508
Warren1430
Knox1400
Cass1367
Williamson1324
Monroe13013
Morgan1303
Adams1221
Jefferson10717
McDonough10215
Lee1012
Henry961
Pulaski790
Vermilion782
Marion690
Macoupin583
Perry571
Douglas540
Unassigned540
Livingston522
Montgomery481
Jasper477
Jo Daviess461
Christian454
Ford381
Jersey351
Woodford352
Bureau302
Franklin290
Menard240
Fayette233
Mercer230
Wabash230
Alexander220
Mason220
Carroll212
Washington210
Johnson200
Piatt200
Hancock191
Moultrie190
Shelby191
Crawford180
Effingham181
Logan180
Bond161
Cumberland160
Fulton160
Clark150
Massac150
Wayne141
Schuyler130
De Witt120
Brown100
Edgar100
Marshall100
Greene90
Saline90
Henderson80
White80
Lawrence70
Hamilton60
Richland40
Stark40
Pike30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pope10
Putnam10
Scott10
Out of IL00

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 48201

Reported Deaths: 2693
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11624683
Lake5146242
Elkhart328546
Allen2762129
St. Joseph194366
Cass16389
Hamilton1552101
Hendricks1403100
Johnson1278118
Porter72837
Tippecanoe7158
Madison65864
Clark65144
Bartholomew58544
Howard57557
LaPorte57326
Kosciusko5464
Vanderburgh5226
Marshall4924
Noble47828
Jackson4703
LaGrange4708
Hancock44835
Boone44243
Delaware44250
Shelby42525
Floyd37944
Morgan32931
Grant29426
Monroe29428
Montgomery29420
Clinton2892
Dubois2736
Henry26315
White26310
Decatur25032
Lawrence24425
Dearborn23623
Vigo2348
Warrick21429
Harrison21322
Unassigned193193
Greene18832
Miami1822
Jennings17611
Putnam1698
DeKalb1624
Scott1607
Daviess14317
Wayne1386
Orange13623
Steuben1292
Perry1279
Franklin1248
Jasper1212
Ripley1167
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette997
Newton9810
Starke933
Whitley925
Huntington812
Gibson802
Randolph794
Jefferson722
Wells721
Fulton701
Jay680
Washington671
Knox640
Pulaski641
Clay604
Rush583
Adams501
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown391
Posey390
Spencer381
Blackford372
Crawford320
Tipton321
Fountain312
Switzerland270
Parke230
Martin220
Ohio170
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike110