Ten people are dead and 10 others injured after a gunman opened fire inside a high school near Houston, Texas, on Friday.
That is the highest number of fatalities at a school shooting since the February 14 massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 people.
Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, has been identified as the shooter by law enforcement, and was booked in the Galveston County Jail for capital murder. In a Friday afternoon press conference, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said there are two others that are currently in custody and are “of interest” to the shooting.
Witnesses said that the shooting began around 7:30 a.m when the gunman burst through the door of an art class and yelled “surprise!” before opening fire. The suspect left explosive devices inside and outside the school, Sheriff Trochesset said. According to court documents, he spared the lives of certain students whom he liked, so he could "have his story told."
The shooter was reportedly armed with an assault-style rifle, a shotgun, and a pistol—with the shooter using a “shotgun and .38 revolver” that were obtained from his father, Gov. Abbot said. The explosive devices also reportedly “included pressure cookers and pipe bombs,” and Gov. Abbot said that a “CO2 device” and “molotov cocktail” have been recovered while police are searching two residences and a vehicle.
Gov. Abbot also said that the shooter “had intention to commit suicide, but gave himself up.”
Houston police officer John Barnes and another officer confronted Pagourtzis, but not before Barnes was injured by a shotgun blast. Surgeons restarted Barnes’ heart twice, his friend told the Houston Chronicle, and repaired wounds in both arms. Barnes is a 25-year veteran of the Houston Police Department who was stationed at the school four months ago.
On Friday afternoon, the name of at least one victim was revealed. Friends confirmed the death of 64-year-old substitute teacher, Ann Perkins.
Perkins was a fixture at Santa Fe High School. On Twitter, students mourned and posted tributes to the educator they affectionately called “Grandma Perkins.”
“She subs in the high school every day. Kids know her,” said Chelsea Pourchot, a junior. “We all just called her Grandma Perkins. She was just always there for all the kids. Kind of like a mentor, kind of a grandma.”
“She was there for everybody,” Pourchot added. “She would sit there and talk to you about your problems. She was an all-around sweet lady.”
Tim Coronado, the owner of a local dance studio, confirmed Perkins’ death. In a Facebook post, Coronado asked for prayers for Perkins’ daughter, Ashley, and Perkins’ husband. “Prayers for her, for comfort and peace and her dad who has no idea because he is flying in air,” he wrote.
Candi Thurman, a 17-year-old junior, told The Daily Beast that she was about 20 minutes into her first-period economics class when school-safety officers warned about an active shooter.
She took to Twitter following the incident, writing, “Today I had to hide under my teachers desk with my best friend bawling behind me. The cops finally came and got us out and told us to run as fast as we can. I have never been more afraid in my life.”
“My class is right next to the police office,” Thurman explained. “So we heard the door start shaking to the police officers’ room. Mr. [Steve] Rose, my teacher, opened the door and was like, ‘What’s wrong?’”
“Someone has a shotgun, everybody hide!” the student said a school police officer replied.
Rey Montemayor III, a senior, was in history class when the fire alarm went off. As he waited in a field in the back of the school, he assumed it was only a drill. Minutes later, he heard six gunshots.
“When we stepped outside, we heard fire trucks. We all started getting close to the school,” Montemayor told The Daily Beast. “Out of nowhere, the teacher yelled, ‘Get back’ and ‘Run away!’ That’s when we heard the gunshots.”
“At first I didn’t run because I thought it was fake. I didn’t know what was going on,” he added. “You saw the window shatter and it just got real.”
Thurman said she and her classmates hid in their room for a while, too, until the fire alarm rang. “Next thing you know, this cop is like, ‘I’m going to need you all to run as fast as you can,’” Thurman recalled.
They ran toward one door, then were ordered to turn around to the main doors in a single file line. “Keep running. Go to Highway 6 and don’t stop,” Thurman recalled someone instructing.
Students ran across Highway 6 into the yard of Ruth Casner.
Casner, a pre-kindergarten teacher, said she was getting ready for work when students started moving towards her.
“They were screaming and yelling,” she said. “Next thing you know there were ambulances everywhere.”
Montemayor said his friend, Clay Horn, was shot twice in the chest and is in critical condition. Another pal, Chris Stone, is among the missing.
And Thurman said her step-niece hasn’t been accounted for. Shana Fisher, 16, was in art class when the gunfire rang out. Her family is waiting at the Alamo Gym, where parents are reuniting with their children.
“She has art for first period. We just don’t know where she is and if she’s okay. We’re praying,” Thurman added. “It’s really shocking to hear this could happen in our schools.”
Fellow student Paige Curry was asked by KTRK-TV if she’d ever thought this couldn’t possibly happen at her school. “No. It’s been happening everywhere,” she replied. “I’ve always felt it would eventually happen here, too.”
Suzannah Salazar told a KHOU reporter that her sister, 10th grader Sarah Salazar, has “been shot” and taken to the hospital after not hearing from her during the school evacuations. Sarah was allegedly in the “art class where shooting is said to have occurred.”
Santa Fe High School is the sole high school in the Santa Fe Independent School District, located in Galveston County, just 35 miles southeast of central Houston. Per the district, the school serves a total of 1,447 students.
Santa Fe is the 22nd school shooting in 2018, according to CNN.
“Santa Fe is such a small town and full of so many happy people. Everybody knows each other,” Thurman told The Daily Beast. “These deaths are going to be a horrible thing to mourn and grieve. I want everyone to know I’m praying for them.”
—With Stephen Paulsen in Santa Fe. Additional research by Lisa Schwartz.