SANTA FE, Texas (Reuters) – A male student who entered a Texas high school on Friday and shot dead ten people, including fellow pupils, had planned to end the attack with his suicide but instead surrendered to police, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said.
Students said a gunman opened fire in a classroom at Santa Fe High School shortly before 8 a.m. CT (1300 GMT) on Friday, and that they fled in panic after seeing classmates wounded and a fire alarm triggered a full evacuation.
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.
Ten people were also wounded in Friday’s attack, Abbott told a news conference, and the gunman had used a shotgun and a .38 revolver taken from his father.
“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. He did not identify the suspected gunman or the two others.
One of the people detained is Dimitrios Pagourtzis, according to a law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation told Reuters.
Explosive devices had also been found at the school, located about 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Houston, and off campus, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted. “Law enforcement is in the process of rendering them safe.”
Police were searching two homes and a vehicle linked to the suspect, where they have found multiple homemade explosive devices, Abbott said.
Texas shooting: ‘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.
(Additional reporting by Ernest Scheyder and Liz Hampton in Houston, Gina Cherelus and Peter Szekely in New York and Mark Hosenball and Ian Simpson in Washington; Writing by Daniel Wallis and Scott Malone; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Susan Thomas)