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10 dead in Santa Fe school shooting, suspect detained

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IN April, students of the Santa Fe high school walked out in protest over the ongoing spate of school shootings in the United States. Today they became victim to one.

Classes had only just begun in Texas overnight Australian time when an alarm bell rang through the school campus. Soon students were running for their lives.

“I wanted to take care of my friends, but I knew I had to get out of there,” a 15-year-old student, who saw the gunman walk into her art class and open fire, told Reuters. “I knew the guy behind me was dead.”

Descriptions of the attacker soon began to circulate: “Black trench coat, short kind of guy, had a sawed-off shotgun,” Damon Rabon told CBS News.

Others simply ran for their lives.

“I was just scared for my life and my adrenaline was so high I had no idea I was shot,” Rome Shubert told the Houston Chronicle.

Dakota Shrader said the school was gripped with panic.

“As soon as the alarms went off, everybody just started running,” she said, “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.”

Two police officers quickly responded to calls for help. The region’s police chief was among more who arrived moments later, pulling one of his wounded officers to safety.

“I’ve always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here too,” one unnamed student told local media. “I wasn’t surprised, I was just scared.”

Amid outcry from across the US that ‘prayers are no longer enough’, the students’ own ranks remain split over exactly how to counter the murderous rampage.

Branden Auzston, 17, is a junior at the school. He says he doesn’t like the idea of arming teachers or allowing open carry on school campuses.

Auzston says “that might help, but at the same time it would just leave room for more deaths.” He thinks security at his school could be improved if more police officers are stationed there “but in a smart manner.”

However, 17-year-old senior Daisy Sullivan, Auzston’s girlfriend, says she doesn’t think more gun control measures are needed.

She says “it’s not, like, the gun’s fault” whenever a school shooting happens. Sullivan adds, “No, it’s the kid who had the idea. Something is wrong with his head. He had the weird idea to shoot up a school.”

Dimitrious Pagourtzis, who police say shot 10 people dead at his Texas high school, recently posted a picture of a black T-shirt on his Facebook page that read: “BORN TO KILL.” But little else hinted at why he launched his rampage.

The shooting happened as the school day began in rural Santa Fe, Texas, halfway between Houston and the Gulf of Mexico.

Police said there were no significant red flags that would have drawn attention to him, though the attack was clearly planned.

Pagourtzis has made his initial court appearance via closed circuit video from the Galveston County Jail. The judge also took Pagourtzis’ application for a court-appointed lawyer.

Pagourtzis has been charged with capital murder. He did not enter a plea at the hearing. He was denied bail.

He entered the school carrying a shotgun and pistol under a long coat and he opened fire on fellow students.

He killed nine students and one teacher, and wounded 10 others before surrendering. He also planted homemade explosive devices during the morning assault, but none apparently detonated. Police say they have so far recovered four pipe bombs.

A substitute teacher whose lust for life and love of family is among the first confirmed victims of Friday’s mass shooting at a Texas high school.

Among those injured include a school resource officer and a sophomore baseball player.

CYNTHIA TISDALE: Family members confirmed that substitute teacher Cynthia Tisdale was among the victims killed in the shooting.

Tisdale’s niece, Leia Olinde, said Tisdale was like a mother to her and helped her shop for wedding dresses last year.

“She helped me put it on, she helped fix my hair,” Olinde said through tears. “She was wonderful. She was just so loving,” said Olinde, 25. “I’ve never met a woman who loved her family so much.

She said Tisdale was married to her husband for close to 40 years and that the two had three children and eight grandchildren.

Tisdale’s house was the centre for family gatherings, and she loved cooking thanksgiving dinner and decorating her house, Olinde said. Olinde’s fiance, Eric Sanders, said of Tisdale that “words don’t explain her lust for life and the joy she got from helping people.”

JOHN BARNES: School police officer John Barnes was shot in the arm when he confronted the gunman.

A bullet damaged the bone and a major blood vessel around Barnes’ elbow, which required surgery to repair, said David Marshall, chief nursing officer at the University of Texas Medical Branch. He said Barnes was in stable condition. Barnes was the first to engage Pagourtzis, according to Marshall.

ROME SHUBERT: Sophomore baseball player Rome Shubert says the gunman walked into his classroom and tossed something onto desks.

Shubert told the Houston Chronicle that he then heard “three loud pops” before the attacker fled into the hall. Shubert says he realised he’d been wounded as he was running out the back door.

Shubert says he was hit in the back of his head with what he says was a bullet, but that it “missed everything vital.” He also tweeted that he was OK and stable.

Information from his cellphone and computer showed “not only did he want to commit the shooting, but he wanted to commit suicide after the shooting,” said Texas Governor Greg Abbott, briefing reporters.

“He gave himself up, and admitted at the time he didn’t have the courage to commit suicide.”

Pagourtzis had no criminal history nor record of any kind with law enforcement, according to Abbott.

He wasn’t known to own any guns. The shotgun and pistol were both registered to his father.

“His slate is pretty clean. And so there simply were not the same type of warning signs that we have seen in so many other shootings.” The boyish, clean-cut 17 year old, is the son of a Greek immigrant apparently in the marine supply business.

The photograph on his Facebook page, since taken down, shows Pagourtzis in a black shirt and black baseball cap with a peace symbol on it.

His post-high school plans were set: he indicated that he intended to join the US Marines after graduating in 2019.

The family lived in the plain about 50 kilometres southeast of Houston, a region that suffered some of the worst flooding from Hurricane Harvey last year.

In a state where high school football is king, “Dimitri” played as a defensive lineman for the last two years on the school’s freshman and junior varsity teams.

But a tentative roster posted online for the coming year, which would be his final one in high school, did not have his name.

“He was very quiet. Stuck to himself,” a teammate told local television. “I maybe have seen him get bullied a few times, but nothing too serious. For him to do something this catastrophic, it’s crazy.”

His Facebook page suggested a fascination with cult icons and symbols. His profile picture was taken from an album by a Paris-based techno musician known as “Perturbator” with a red inverted pentagram, seen often as a satanic symbol.

Above a picture of his black coat, he described some of the symbols attached to it.

“Hammer and Sickle = Rebellion; Rising Sun = Kamikaze Tactics; Iron Cross = Bravery” he wrote.

While there was no immediate confirmation, descriptions by students at the scene of the shooting suggested that was the jacket he wore.

US Senator John Cornyn says the 17-year-old student accused in a fatal shooting at a Texas high school used a semiautomatic pistol and a sawed-off shotgun to kill 10 people.

The Republican from Texas says investigators are still determining whether the shotgun’s shortened barrel is legal.

Cornyn says the suspect had a variety of homemade explosives in his car and at the school, including pipe bombs and “pressure-cooker-like bombs” similar to those used in the Boston Marathon attack.

Cornyn says the suspect “planned on doing this for some time, he advertised his intentions but somehow slipped through the cracks.”

Vice President Mike Pence says President Donald Trump “has been taking action to make our schools and our communities safe,” hours after a mass shooting at a high school in Texas.

Pence on Friday called it a “heartbreaking day” after at least 10 people were killed at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas.

Speaking at political event in his home state of Indiana, Pence is highlighting the administration’s efforts on school safety, including signing legislation authorising $2 billion for state and local governments to use to protect schools and a bill to strengthen the nation’s firearm background check system.

Pence says the administration is still calling on states “to follow the example of Indiana and allow qualified school personnel to carry concealed weapons.”

President Trump has ordered that US flags fly at half-staff as a mark of “solemn respect” for those affected by the school shooting in Texas. Flags are to be flown at half-staff until sunset on May 22. The order applies to the White House and all public buildings and grounds, military posts and naval stations and vessels, as well as at US embassies, consular offices and other facilities abroad. The flag atop the White House was immediately lowered on Friday.

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