A school shooting just before 8 a.m. Friday morning at Sante Fe High School, south of Houston, has left at least eight people dead, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
At a media briefing Friday morning, Gonzalez said the death toll could be as high as 10 and includes mostly students as well as school staff. The 17-year-old suspect, who is in custody, has been identified as Dimitrios Pagourtzis, law enforcement officials said. Another “person of interest” has been detained and questioned, Gonzalez said. Both are believed to be students, according to local officials.
A little over three hours after the shooting started, Santa Fe ISD reported that “explosive devices” had been found at the school and off campus. The district said the school had been evacuated and advised community members to be on the lookout for suspicious packages.
At least 12 people — among them one Santa Fe ISD police officer — are being treated at area hospitals, the Houston Chronicle reported. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office was deployed to the Galveston County school to assist with a “multiple-casualty incident.”
Law enforcement agencies were securing the building and students were being transported to the nearby Alamo Gym, where they could reunite with parents, the district said.
“We experienced an unthinkable tragedy at our high school this morning,” Santa Fe ISD Superintendent Leigh Wall said. “We have experienced an outpouring of support from across the state, and we appreciate your continued prayers for our students, staff and community.”
Friday’s shooting is the latest tragedy in a spate of gun violence across the country, the victims of which have often been students and teachers. In November, 26 people were killed at a church in Sutherland Springs. Just this week, a school resource officer intervened when a former student opened fire at Dixon High School in Illinois.
Last month, students at Santa Fe High School participated in a student walkout against gun violence. They sat outside for 17 minutes of silence.
The shooting brought immediate expressions of support and concern from statewide and national leaders. Gov. Greg Abbott said he was on his way to the school Friday morning. At an event Friday morning, President Donald Trump said, “This has been going on too long in our country.”
“Too many years, too many decades now,” he said. “We grieve for the terrible loss of life.”
Vice President Mike Pence said he and the president have been briefed on the shooting and will make all federal resources available to people on the scene.
“We are with you,” Pence said, speaking to the high school’s community. “You are in our prayers, and I know you are in the prayers of the American people.”