Santa Fe, TX— A 17-year-old high school student identified as Dimitrios Pagourtzis opened fire at the Houston-area Santa Fe High School with a shotgun and a handgun, killing 10 people and leaving another 14 people wounded – including a school police officer who confronted the suspect during the attack at Santa Fe High School.
The Associated Press reported that local hospitals confirmed a total of 14 people treated for injuries related to the shooting, with two listed in critical condition on Saturday at the University of Texas Medical Branch, according to a tweet from the hospital.
Pagourtzis yelled “surprise” before opening fire, according to Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. Authorities said the suspected shooter, who is now in custody on murder charges, had made improvised explosive devices, including pipe bombs, a Molotov cocktail and pressure-cooker bombs, found in the school and at the suspect’s home.
Abbot said the alleged shooter obtained a shotgun and a .38-caliber handgun from his father, who legally owned them, to carry out the attack. The AP reported that Pagourtizis’ lawyers said the parents stated that “the guns were locked up and they did not know that their son was capable of violence.”
The AP report further noted:
Pagourtzis played on the junior varsity football team and was a member of a dance squad with a local Greek Orthodox church. Acquaintances described him as quiet and unassuming, an avid video game player who routinely wore a black trench coat and black boots to class.
The assailant’s homemade explosives included pipe bombs, at least one Molotov cocktail and pressure-cooker bombs similar to those used in the Boston Marathon attack, authorities said.
Investigators offered no motive. In a probable cause affidavit, however, authorities said the suspect admitted to the shooting.
The governor said the assailant intended to kill himself but gave up and told police that he did not have the courage to take his own life.”
The suspect reportedly has no prior arrests or known confrontations with law enforcement. CNN reported that Pagourtzis admitted to authorities that he didn’t shoot people he liked and meant to kill the ones he’d targeted, stating “he did not shoot students he did like so he could have his story told,” according to an affidavit. Sadie Rodriguez, mother of deceased victim Shana Fisher, told the Los Angeles Times that prior to the shooting Fisher “had 4 months of problems from this boy” and that Pagourtzis “kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no.” Rodriguez added that after the advances from Pagourtzis became increasingly vigorous, Fisher confronted Pagourtzis, reportedly embarrassing him at school.
Valerie Martin, a teacher who had Pagourtzis in her language arts class in middle school, noted according to the New York Times that Pagourtzis “was quiet, but he wasn’t quiet in a creepy way,” and described him as “an introvert, not an extrovert.”
According to NBC News, fellow student Dustin Severin said that Pagourtzis was subjected to bullying— particularly from adults at the school. “He’s been picked on by coaches before, for smelling bad and stuff like that,” Severin said according to the report. “And he doesn’t really talk to very many people either. He keeps to himself.” The Santa Fe Independent School District argued that claims of Pagourtzis being bullied by coaches are false.
Pagourtzis made his initial court appearance Friday by video link from the Galveston County Jail in front of Galveston County Magistrate Mark Henry, who said the suspect is cooperating with police. The alleged shooter, who is accused of capital murder of multiple people and aggravated assault on a public servant, was denied bail by Henry. USA Today reported that based upon a 2005 Supreme Court ruling, Pagourtzis will not face the death penalty if convicted.
Gov. Abbott said Pagourtzis wrote in journals of wanting to carry out such an attack and then to end his own life, while other students said that he was quiet and sometimes bullied. CNN reported that a second person was detained at the scene in relation to the shooting, who police had called a “person of interest,” and was being investigated as a possible accomplice. However, a Houston Chronicle report notes that Pagourtzis claimed that he acted alone.
Pagourtzis’ court appearance can be seen below.
Top Photo | Deputies from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office on the scene of Santa Fe High School, where a shooting occurred Friday morning. (Harris County Sheriff’s Office)
Jay Syrmopoulos is a geopolitical analyst, freethinker, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs and holds a BA in International Relations. Jay’s writing has been featured on both mainstream and independent media.