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Gunman opens fire in Texas high school, killing 10 people

Juan A. Lozano, Associated Press | 5/18/2018, 5:43 p.m.
A 17-year-old carrying a shotgun and a revolver opened fire at a Houston-area high school Friday, killing 10 people, most ...
Santa Fe High School student Dakota Shrader is comforted by her mother Susan Davidson following a shooting at the school on Friday, May 18, 2018, in Santa Fe, Texas. (Stuart Villanueva/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)

SANTA FE, Texas — A 17-year-old carrying a shotgun and a revolver opened fire at a Houston-area high school Friday, killing 10 people, most of them students, authorities said. It was the nation's deadliest such attack since the massacre in Florida that gave rise to a campaign by teens for gun control.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who law enforcement officials took into custody Friday, May 18, 2018, and identified as the suspect in the deadly school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, near Houston. (Galveston County Sheriff's Office via AP)

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who law enforcement officials took into custody Friday, May 18, 2018, and identified as the suspect in the deadly school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, near Houston. (Galveston County Sheriff's Office via AP)

The suspected shooter, who was in custody on murder charges, also had explosive devices, including a Molotov cocktail, that were found in the school and nearby, said Gov. Greg Abbott, who called the assault "one of the most heinous attacks that we've ever seen in the history of Texas schools."

Authorities offered no immediate motive for 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 deaths were all but certain to re-ignite the national debate over gun regulations, coming just three months after the Parkland, Florida, attack that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

"It's been happening everywhere. I've always kind of felt like that eventually it was going to happen here too," Santa Fe student Paige Curry told Houston television station KTRK. "I don't know. I wasn't surprised. I was just scared."

Another 10 people were wounded at the school in Santa Fe, a city of about 13,000 people roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Houston. The wounded included a school police officer who was the first to confront the suspect and got shot in the arm.

Michael Farina, 17, said he was on the other side of campus when the shooting began and thought it was a fire drill. He was holding a door open for special education students in wheelchairs when a principal came bounding down the hall and telling everyone to run. Another teacher yelled out, "It is real!"

Students were led to take cover behind a car shop across the street from the school. Some still did not feel safe and began jumping the fence behind the shop to run even farther away, Farina said.

"I debated doing that myself," he said.

The suspect was identified as Dimitrios Pagourtzis. A woman who answered the phone at a number associated with the Pagourtzis family declined to speak with the AP.

"Give us our time right now, thank you," she said.

Pagourtzis plays on the Santa Fe High School junior varsity football team and is 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 suspect used a shotgun and .38-revolver obtained from his father, who owned them legally, Abbott said. It was not clear whether the father knew his son had taken them.

One or two other people of interest were being interviewed about the shooting, Abbott said.

While cable news channels carried hours of live coverage, survivors of the Feb. 14 Florida attack took to social media to express grief and outrage.