The latest mass shooting at a US school unfolded Friday in the Texas town of Santa Fe, where at least 10 people were killed by a heavily armed student.
The tragedy occurred just three months after the massacre in Parkland, Florida, where a former student entered a high school and killed 17 people.
– What happened –
Police said a 17-year-old student, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, burst into a classroom and opened fire at Santa Fe High School, about 50km southeast of Houston, as the school day was beginning around 08:00 am.
Authorities said 10 people were killed and another 10 injured, as students fled in panic, seeking shelter in nearby homes or shops for safety, or lining up on school fields as the injured were taken away in ambulances.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the “majority” of the 10 dead were students. Abbott said two of the 10 wounded were in critical condition. One of them was a police officer.
Six students and a teacher‘s aide were identified late Friday as being among the fatalities, local media reported.
Among the dead was Sabika Sheikh, an exchange student from Pakistan in Texas as part of the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program, Pakistan‘s embassy in Washington said in a statement.
Also killed was substitute teacher Ann Perkins, known to many as “Grandma Perkins,” the Houston area CBS affiliate reported.
The Houston Chronicle said Pagourtzis was armed with pipe bombs in addition to firearms.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said searches were being conducted at two residences and “various explosive devices” were found including a “CO2 device” and a Molotov cocktail.
– The shooter –
Pagourtzis, a junior at the school, was taken into custody on murder charges.
Police said he was carrying a shotgun and revolver legally owned by his father under a long coat when he opened fire on fellow students.
Abbott said journal entries by the suspect suggested he wanted to commit suicide but that “he gave himself up.”
Abbott also said there were no “warning signs” about the suspect ahead of time although he did post a picture on his Facebook page of a T-shirt with the words “Born to Kill” on it.
Law enforcement authorities were questioning two “people of interest,” the governor said. One may have “certain information,” he said, and the other had some “suspicious reactions.”
– Political reaction –
US President Donald Trump expressed “sadness and heartbreak” over what he called an “absolutely horrific” incident — the second mass shooting in Texas in six months — and ordering flags to fly at half staff on all public buildings.
Trump, who has previously favored arming teachers, acknowledged that “this has been going on too long in our country.”
“My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools, and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves, and to others,” he said.
Survivors of February‘s high school shooting in Parkland, Florida voiced solidarity and vowed to press on with their campaign for tighter gun laws.