Shooter identified in Santa Fe High School rampage; at least 9 dead

SANTA FE, Texas – The suspected shooter arrested after a rampage that killed at least nine people at Santa Fe High School this morning is 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.

A second person of interest was also detained, officials said.

Pagourtzis, a junior, shared photographs on a now-defunct Facebook page of a T-shirt that said “born to kill” and clothes adorned with German nationalist iconography.

He played on the defensive line for the school football team during his freshman year, and was lauded on a school website in 2016 for his “huge role” in shutting down a rival team’s running game.

Although his Facebook page cites a connection to the U.S. Marine Corps, a USMC spokesperson said he is not affiliated with the Marines.

He is a member of a dance squad with a local Greek Orthodox church, the Associated Press reported.

A woman who answered the phone at a number associated with the Pagourtzis family declined to speak with the AP.

She said: “Give us our time right now, thank you.”

Area hospitals reported at least a dozen injured in the shooting.

The dead are expected to include students and staff, according to a senior law enforcement official who was not authorized to speak about the investigation.

An attacker was armed with an AR-15-style rifle, a pistol, a shotgun and pipe bombs, the official said.

“Officers inside encountered a bloody mess in the school,” the source said, adding, “Evidently this guy threw pipe bombs all in there. We don’t know if any of them went off.”

The bloodshed 30 miles south of Houston is the worst mass shooting in America since February, when 17 people were gunned down at a high school in Parkland, Florida, according to a database of shootings maintained by the Washington Post.

UPDATE 1:29 p.m.: An ambulance arrived at the home being investigated on State Highway 6 northwest of the high school.

Juanita Martin and her son, Joshua Varney, sat on folding chairs outside a tin home a quarter-mile down from the home.

Law enforcement officials appeared to be gong in and out of a trailer next to the property, which Martin said has been “abandoned for years.”

Officials have said they are worried that additional explosives could be in the area.

A sheriff’s deputy close to where reporters were stationed would not confirm anything found on the scene.

Martin’s home is separated from the trailer by woods, but a trail connects the two properties.

“That’s kind of a little too close to home,” Martin said. “I’ve got seven kids.”

1:22 p.m.: The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is asking residents to donate blood because they’re in need of platelets and O-negative red blood cells. Here’s a list of blood donation sites.

12:52 p.m.: The latest on the injured:

Eight students were taken to Clear Lake Regional Medical Center in Webster, all suffering from gunshot wounds, a spokeswoman said. Six have been discharged. One is in critical condition, another in fair condition.

Two other students were taken to Mainland Medical Center in Texas City. They did not have wounds but were being treated in connection with the attack, the spokeswoman said.

The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston was treating three people with wounds: A male under 18 with a gunshot to the leg; a middle-aged woman with a gunshot to the leg, and a man in his 50s who is a Santa Fe school police officer and retired Houston police detective, according to Joe Gamaldi, who heads the Houston Police Officer’s Union. He remains in surgery with a gunshot to the upper arm, near the chest, Gamaldi said. Hospital officials said the older male they were treating has significant blood loss and was in critical condition.

UTMB said it planned to hold a blood drive starting later today.

12:37 p.m.: Police have blocked off at least a half mile of State Highway 6, about four miles northwest of the high school, where they are investigating a home. The highway is lined with trees and sparsely populated with a row of small frame houses and some trailers.

12:32 p.m.: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said in a statement that an armed officer “intercepted the gunman and brought the suspect into custody.” Law enforcement officials have not confirmed that.

12:24 p.m.: Emma González, an outspoken survivor of the Parkland shooting, tweeted: “Santa Fe High, you didn’t deserve this. You deserve peace all your lives, not just after a tombstone saying that is put over you. You deserve more than Thoughts and Prayers, and after supporting us by walking out we will be there to support you by raising up your voices.”

12:17 p.m.: Police are speaking with teachers in the school gym to piece together a timeline of the shooting, according to a television reporter who was there. It appeared most students have been turned over to their parents.

They’d been arriving at the gym in the hours after the shooting. to pick them up or find out where they’d been sent.

“She’s not there,” one woman said desperately into a cell phone as she jogged to her car. “The hospital is confirming she’s not there.”

Minutes earlier, another family had run to their vehicle, yelling to a nearby loved one that they needed to go — their daughter had been shot and was in the hospital.

12:10 p.m.: The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston clarified that it is treating three people: a male under 18 with a gunshot wound to the leg; a middle-aged woman who has a leg wound and is out of surgery, and a man in his 50s with a gunshot to the upper arm, near the chest, who is in surgery and in critical condition, according to David Marshall, chief nursing officer.

The latter is a school security officer who had recently retired as a Houston police detective, according to Joe Gamaldi, who heads the Houston Police Officer’s Union.

Gamaldi said that he retired in January after many years in law enforcement with the city.

“With the number these happening, statistics are showing it’s more dangerous than ever to be a police officer,” Gamaldi said. “Every officer knows the day they put that uniform on it may be their last. I ask that you keep all of our police officers in our prayers as we work hard to keep the community safe.”

12:01 p.m.: Law enforcement officers are investigating a home about a three miles away from the high school.

11:35 a.m.: Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said the first reports of a shooting came in around 7:45 a.m. He told reporters that “suspected material” has been found off campus and that people should not touch anything they find that looks suspicious, and should call 911.

11:04 a.m.: Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told reporters the number of dead could rise as high as 10. The detained suspect is believed to be a student, he said, and most of the dead are students. It is still a “very active” scene at the school, where he said a bomb squad and police were checking to make sure the area was secure.

11 a.m.: Gyl Switzer, executive director of Texas Gun Sense, issued a statement: “Our hearts go out to those affected by today’s shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe Texas. We Texans love our children. We must do a better job of protecting them. There are proven strategies to reduce senseless gun violence. Today, Texas Gun Sense re-doubles our commitment to stop the killing. Work with us.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton earlier issued a statement offering thoughts and prayers.

10:53 a.m.: Yesterday, David Hogg, a student from the Parkland high school that reignited a national conversation on gun control, had a chilling premonition. He said gun violence kept him up at night.

“There is someone alive right now that will not be alive at this time tomorrow and has never even thought about gun violence, but everyone around them will have to for the rest of their lives,” he told reporters in Los Angeles.

10:47 a.m.: Santa Fe High School 10-grader Dakota Shrader said she heard alarms go off and students exited to a grassy area, waiting for an all-clear as in a normal fire drill. Then she heard three gunshots and screams of  “Run! Run!”

Shrader ran as fast as he could to a wooded area, started having an asthma attack and called her mother.

The world, I just don’t like what it’s becoming,” Shrader said. “Every school shooting, kids getting killed, innocent kids getting killed. No family should have to suffer that just because somebody wants to be selfish and go out and hurt other people. It’s just not right at all.”

10:45 a.m.: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement: “The thoughts and prayers of all Texans are with the people of Santa Fe and those affected by today’s tragic shooting. As horrific reports come out of Santa Fe High School, my office stands ready to assist local law enforcement as needed.”

10:40 a.m.: Trey Lemley, 17, said he was in the school’s first floor art room when a shooter walked in, his sister, Courtney Lemley, 19, said.

Trey dropped his phone and barricaded himself inside one of the room’s two closets, she said. When he left, he saw three bodies and pools of blood.

Courtney and her boyfriend, 19-year-old Austin Evans, graduated from the school last year. They said the art room is located near a main, back exit of the school, and the room itself has an exit that leads to the parking lot.

After being turned away from the school, Courtney and Evans walked to Arcadian First Baptist Church, where Courtney’s mother works.

In the parking lot, National Guardsmen gathered supplies before driving towards the school in a military vehicle. Small groups began to gather in the church’s parking lot, staring at their cell phones and sharing details they heard from friends and from news outlets.

10:35 a.m.:  The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston has received three patients, the hospital reported on social media. Two are adults and one is under 18.

Clear Lake Regional Medical Center in Webster received seven injured students, a spokeswoman for that facility said. Previous reports that an injured officer was taken there are wrong, she said. Two other injured students were taken to Mainland Medical Center in Texas City, she said.

The conditions of all of the injured are unknown.

EARLIER:

The shooter has been “arrested and secured,” said Santa Fe HS Assistant Principal Dr. Cris Richardson.

Students described the gunfire, which broke out about 7:30 a.m.

Junior Liberty Wheeler, 14, was in class when she heard five shots ring out near the art room.

Her teacher told them to run toward the theater department’s storage room, where they hid for 45 minutes before being escorted outside by a SWAT team.

“You could smell the gunpowder that came from the gun,” Wheeler recalled as she was escorted out of the building. “We were all scared because it was near us.”

Paige Curry, a junior at the school, said “I was sitting in my classroom and I heard very loud booms and I didn’t know what they were. I was confused but after I heard screaming, I figured out what they were, got up immediately and started to run. I almost ran out of the school but I hid instead with the other students. I was there for maybe 30 minutes I was on the phone with my mom the whole time. They found us and escorted us.”

“There were a lot of people, a lot of different suits so I wasn’t really sure but I think they were SWAT.”

“I was very, very scared but I managed to keep calm, especially with my mom on the phone.”

“I heard people were hurt and the gunshots were from a classroom maybe three doors down. I heard five [shots] maybe. It was one boom, then another boom very loud. It wasn’t rapid.”