Another Friday, another 10 people killed in a school shooting. This one in tiny Santa Fe, Texas, population 12,222, located 35 miles southeast of Houston. Here a scorned 17-year-old, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, smuggled a shotgun, .38 revolver and improvised explosive devises into Santa Fe High School, opening fire shortly after 7:30 AM on May 18, killing eight students and 2 teachers.
Few warning signs foretold the violence this child was prepared to unleash. He was a loaner, introverted, but considered part of the Santa Fe community. He made the honor roll and played on the jayvee football team. This made it all the more difficult to witness him racking the slide on a sawed-off shotgun as he told victims, “I’m going to kill you.”
Once again bullying is alleged as a possible motive. Another contributing factor was the rejection Pagourtzis received from his continued advances to date victim Shana Fisher, 16. This might explain why the shooter targeted certain kids who he told police had been “mean” to him, while other classmates deemed “nice” were left alive to tell his story.
The suspect arrived at school Friday morning wearing a trench coat to help conceal his weapons, combat boots and a “Born to Kill” t-shirt. The entire deadly rampage was carried out within the school’s art complex, consisting of four rooms, interconnected by interior hallways. Pagourtzis methodically moved room-to-room, taunting students as he selected victims. Several were shot while hiding inside closets, as he fired through the doors.
Police officers with the Santa Fe Independent School District engaged the shooter within four minutes of the first shots being fired and were quickly joined by a Texas state trooper. This allowed remaining students and faculty to evacuate safely. Instead of committing suicide as intended, Pagourtzis surrendered to police amid a shootout some 25 minutes after beginning his attack. He is being held without bond at the Galveston County Jail, charged with capital murder and aggravated assault on a peace officer.
Afterward, law enforcement officials discovered homemade explosive devices in the school and nearby, including pipe bombs, at least one Molotov cocktail and pressure-cooker bombs similar to those used in the Boston Marathon bombings.
Not four weeks after these same students participated in the National School Walkout to protest gun violence in schools, shots rang out in their hallways. School was almost over at Santa Fe High School. Graduation and prom were right around the corner. But now, instead of joy, it’s candlelight vigils, memorials and funerals. I continue to applaud the efforts of the kids in Parkland, FL, for their composure and commitment to the #NeverAgain movement, but there is a sickness in America and slogans will not remedy it.
It would be nice if this was the shooting that finally brought people to their senses, even in Texas, that stout gun control laws are needed nationwide. Because “thoughts & prayers” aren’t doing a damn thing to improve the situation. It’s astounding that so-called sensible Americans are willing to sell out the deaths of our children, in schools, simply because the NRA and President Trump want to pitch the fairytale that more guns on the streets are not part of the problem.
Admittedly, outlawing assault weapons, requiring background checks, instating waiting periods and other sensible gun control measures will not bring an end to all gun violence, but it will help. More importantly it would send a message to the children of America that adults are trying to keep them safe by doing the right thing and allowing fewer guns to hit the streets and making access to deadly weapons more stringent.
Use the ballot box come November and vote every incumbent out of office that will not support sensible gun control measures, locally and nationally, and only then will Congress act and the NRA recede back into its murky swamp.