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10 Killed in Texas School Shooting


Law enforcement officers respond to Santa Fe (Texas) High School following a shooting in this Harris County Sheriff's Office photo, May 18, 2018.

Texas officials on Friday charged a 17-year-old boy with murder in the fatal shootings of 10 people, most of them students, at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas. Ten other people were wounded in the attack, including a school police officer who was one of the first to confront the suspect.

Students said the gunman, identified by law enforcement as Dimitrios Pagourtzis, a junior at the school, opened fire before 8 a.m. at Santa Fe High School.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said police found explosive devices, including a Molotov cocktail, at the suspect's home and in a vehicle, as well as around the high school. He said there were "one or two'' other people of interest being interviewed about the attack.

In this image taken from video, emergency personnel and law enforcement officers respond to a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, after an active shooter was reported on campus, May 18, 2018.
In this image taken from video, emergency personnel and law enforcement officers respond to a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, after an active shooter was reported on campus, May 18, 2018.

Abbott said the suspect, who was in custody, originally intended to commit suicide following the shooting but told law enforcement officials after he was arrested that he didn't have the courage to go through with it.

The governor said two weapons were used in the attack, a shotgun and a .38-caliber revolver. He said the suspect's father legally owned both guns. It was not clear whether the father knew his son had taken the weapons.

Abbott called the shooting "one of the most heinous attacks that we've ever seen in the history of Texas schools."

An unidentified male student described fleeing the school during an interview with KHOU-TV in Houston. He said that after he heard three shots, "we all took off in the back, and I tried to get into the trees. I didn't want to be in sight. I heard four more shots, and then we jumped the fence to somebody's house."

An unidentified female student said tearfully on cable channel CNN, "Nobody should have to go through this. Nobody should have to feel that pain."

No major warning signs

Police said that there were no major indications the suspect was planning an attack and that he had no criminal history. He recently posted a picture of a black T-shirt on his Facebook page that read "BORN TO KILL," according to authorities.

That same Facebook profile described Pagourtzis as planning to enter the U.S. Marine Corps next year, but the Marine Corps told The Associated Press it had reviewed its records and had found no one by that name as either a recruit or a person in its delayed entry pool.

Classmates of Pagourtzis described him as quiet and unassuming — an avid video game player who routinely wore a black trench coat and black boots to class. They said he played on the junior varsity football team and belonged to a local Greek Orthodox church.

U.S. President Donald Trump described the shooting as an "absolutely horrific attack," one of many that have "been going on too long in this country." Trump told the victims and their families that "we're with you in this tragic hour and we will be with you forever." He vowed to get guns "out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves and to others."

Parkland shootings

The latest incident came about three months after a shooter with a semiautomatic rifle killed 17 students and school staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It was the third-deadliest school shooting in American history.

Following the shooting, some of the survivors championed stronger gun-control regulations and led Florida state lawmakers to adopt new restrictions on weapons.

Bruce Alexander, a longtime law enforcement and Department of Homeland Security official, told VOA that the Texas attack came at a time when "we have scarcely started to come to grips with previous incident in Parkland."

He said after such shootings there is usually a lot "of finger-pointing," which he described as "very unhelpful in trying to find practical working solutions." Alexander said it was too simplistic to reduce such attacks to "a sound bite and say, 'This is a gun control issue,' or 'This is a mental health issue.' "

Calls for action

The Democratic leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said urgent action was needed to prevent gun violence.

"Congress must show as much courage as they have, and act now to ensure that no other community or family must endure the unthinkable horror of gun violence. Our children deserve real leadership: a vote to prevent gun violence now."

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said Congress must implement reforms that lawmakers recently passed "to make schools safer and keep deadly weapons away from those who should not have them."

"Our hearts are filled with grief over this horrific loss of life," he added.

Santa Fe is located in southeastern Texas between the cities of Houston and Galveston.

Some information for this report came from Associated Press.

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