Shooter at Santa Fe high school in Texas

crime | May 18, 2018 | By Martin Barillas

UPDATE: Police have identified a suspect for the shootings today in Texas. Dimitrios Pagourtzis is in custody, while another person described as a person of interest has also been questioned.

A gunman took the lives of as many as 10 students at the high school in Santa Fe, Galveston County, Texas. In addition, explosive devices apparently associated with the incident have been found on the campus and nearby. Authorities are asking residents to be vigilant but to refrain from touching anything that appears suspicious. Residents are asked to report anything suspicious to law enforcement. Elements of the FBI, ATF, Texas Department of Public Safety, county and local law enforcement are on the scene.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said he did not know the exact number of dead and wounded at Santa Fe High School, which went on lockdown around 8 a.m. local time. Two suspects are in custody. They are believed to be students. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzales briefed the media on the shooting.

President Donald Trump spoke at the White House and condemned the "absolutely horrific attack" and vowed that the administration will do everything in its power to address security concerns at schools. "May God comfort the wounded, May God comfort the victims and the victims' families. Very sad day," the president said.

 

Assistant Principal Cris Richardson said a suspect had been arrested. "We hope the worst is over, and I really can't say any more about that because it would be pure speculation," Richardson told reporters. He could not confirm the number of wounded. Superintendent Leigh Wall stated, "It is with great sadness that I stand here to share with you that we experienced an unthinkable tragedy at our high school this morning. We are grieving the loss of members of our SFISD family."

The shooting began at about 7:30 a.m. local time. Students were evacuated from the school, but backpacks were searched before the students were transported to Alamo Gym nearby, where they were reunited with their parents. A local hospital confirmed that three persons were brought for treatment for gunshot injuries.

Suspect Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, a student of Santa Fe, is in custody. Around the school, police found pressure cookers and pipe bombs. Police are conducting an active search for explosive devices and are rendering them safe. According to CBS, two students and a school resource officer were shot and injured in the shooting. Another law enforcement officer was also injured but was not shot.

"We hope the worst is over and I really can't say any more about that because it would be pure speculation," Assistant Principal Cris Richardson told media outlets. Witnesses heard several large detonations on the morning of the shooting. One witness said he looked out his classroom door and saw the gunman wearing a long black coat and carrying what appeared to be sawed-off shotgun. A teacher pulled the fire alarm in an effort to alert students and faculty in other areas of the school. A student identified as Tyler told KHOU-TV that his friend saw "some kid" with a gun. Tyler said that when faculty and students were outside after the fire alarm was pulled, shots were fired. Student Dakota Shrader told media "As soon as the alarms went off, everybody just started running outside," adding, "and next thing you know everybody looks, and you hear boom, boom, boom, and I just ran as fast as I could to the nearest floor so I could hide, and I called my mom."

A student told KTRK  of Houston that the gunman came into her morning class and commenced firing. The student said that she saw that one girl was wounded. She said students, prompted by the fire alarm and faculty, escaped through a door at the back of the classroom.

As reports rolled in, President Trump tweeted, "School shooting in Texas. Early reports not looking good. God bless all!"  Later, the president spoke at the White House and said it was a "very sad day."

"This has been going on too long in our country," President Trump said. "Too many years, too many decades now. We grieve for the terrible loss of life and send our support and love to everyone affected by this absolutely horrific attack. To the students, families, teachers and personnel at Santa Fe High, we're with you in this tragic hour, and we will be with you forever."

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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