Student Charged With Killing 10 In Texas High School Massacre

A 17-year-old student has appeared in court charged with shooting dead nine students and one teacher at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas.

What you need to know
  • Shooting occurred about 8am at Santa Fe High School, about 48 kilometres southeast of Houston, Texas
  • Explosive devices were found at the school and off campus
  • Student, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, has appeared in court
  • President Donald Trump has sent his condolences for the "absolutely horrific attack"

SANTA FE, Texas (Reuters) -- Texas officials have charged a 17-year-old student with murder in the shooting of 10 people, including fellow pupils, at his high school on Friday in an attack similar to the massacre at a Florida high school earlier this year.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis was denied bail at a brief court appearance later in the day, where he appeared shackled and wearing a green prison jumpsuit.

He spoke in a soft voice and said, "Yes sir" when asked if he wanted a court-appointed lawyer, along with other questions.

Students allege Pagourtzis opened fire in a classroom at Santa Fe High School shortly before 8am  (1300 GMT) on Friday, and that they fled in panic after seeing classmates wounded and a fire alarm triggered a full evacuation. Ten people were hurt in the attack, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said.

The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office identified Pagourtzis and said he had been charged with capital murder in a post on its Facebook page. More charges could follow.

Friends and family attend a vigil held at the First Bank in Santa Fe for the victims of a shooting. Image: Bob Levey/Getty Images

It was the latest in a long series of deadly shootings at U.S. schools. Seventeen teens and educators were shot dead at a Parkland, Florida, high school in February, a massacre that stirred the nation’s long-running debate over gun ownership.

Speaking to reporters before the teen was identified, Abbott told reporters that the suspect had used a shotgun and a .38 revolver taken from his father in the fourth-deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. public school.

“Not only did he want to commit the shooting, but he wanted to commit suicide after the shooting,” Abbott said, citing a police review of the suspect’s journals.

“He didn’t have the courage to commit suicide.”

Two other people are in custody, Abbott said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference about the shooting incident at Santa Fe High School. Image: Bob Levey/Getty Images

Investigators are talking to the suspect, Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said.

Abbott said that investigators had seen a T-shirt on the suspect’s Facebook page that read “Born to Kill.”

Explosive devices had also been found at the school, located about 48 kilometres southeast of Houston, and off campus, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted.

Police were searching two homes and a vehicle linked to the suspect, where they have found multiple homemade explosive devices, Abbott said.

' The guy behind me was dead'

Courtney Marshall, a 15-year-old freshman at the school, said the gunman came into her art class shooting.

“I wanted to take care of my friends, but I knew I had to get out of there,” Marshall said, saying that she saw at least one person hit. “I knew the guy behind me was dead.”

Orlando Gonzalez said that his 16-year-old son Keaton, fled the attack, but one of his friends was shot and wounded.

“I was really worried, I didn’t know what was going on ... I almost couldn’t drive,” Gonzalez said. “I just imagine what he’s going through ... He’s still scared.”

The school has some 1,462 students, according to federal education data.

U.S. President Donald Trump called the latest school massacre “absolutely horrific.”

“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,” Trump said at the White House.

Days after the Parkland shooting, Trump said that elected officials should be ready to “fight” the powerful National Rifle Association lobby group. Early this month he embraced that group, telling its annual meeting in Dallas “your Second Amendment rights are under siege”.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right to bear arms.

No major federal gun controls have been imposed since Parkland, though the administration is pursuing a proposed regulatory ban on “bump stocks,” which enable a semi-automatic rifle to fire a steady stream of bullets. The devices were used in an October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 59 people but have not played a role in other major U.S. mass shootings.

Major school shootings in the United States

Below are some of the bloodiest and most notable shootings in U.S. schools and colleges, ranked by death toll. This is not a complete list of all school shootings:

VIRGINIA TECH, April 16, 2007 - A gunman slaughters 32 people and kills himself at Virginia Tech, a university in Blacksburg, Virginia.

SANDY HOOK, December 14, 2012 - A man shoots his mother to death, then kills 20 children and six adults before killing himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

PARKLAND, February 14, 2018 - A former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, opens fire with an assault-style rifle, killing 17 students and educators. Authorities arrest the gunman.

AUSTIN, August 1, 1966 - A sniper perched in a University of Texas clock tower unleashes 90 minutes of terror by killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 others in what is regarded as the first U.S. mass shooting in a public space. He is fatally shot by police.

COLUMBINE, April 20, 1999 - Two teenagers rampage through Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colorado, fatally shooting 12 students and a teacher and wounding more than 20 others before killing themselves.

With AAP