On Friday morning, May 18, the lives of students, parents, teachers and a community were shattered and forever changed as 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis allegedly walked into Santa Fe High School armed with a shotgun and a 0.38 revolver and proceeded to open fire. In the end, eight students and two teachers lost their lives, while 13 others were taken to the hospital with injuries. Pagourtzis’s family issued a public statement on Saturday to offer their condolences.
“We are saddened and dismayed by yesterday’s events at Santa Fe High School. We extend our most heartfelt prayers and condolences to all of the victims. We also wish to thank all the first responders from all over Texas that assisted in rendering aid and support.”
Pagourtzis had reportedly intended to kill himself after his killing spree ended, but couldn’t go through with it as he “didn’t have the courage to commit suicide” and surrendered himself. The guns he used belonged to his father, who did legally own them. Authorities found a journal belonging to the suspect, detailing his plans to kill his peers and then himself, according to Texas Governor Greg Abbot. The suspect allegedly brought explosive devices that he set up in the school, however, it is unclear as to whether or not those devices ever went off.
The suspect’s family admits their confusion as to why this happened.
“We are as shocked and confused as anyone else by these events that occurred. We are gratified by the public comments made by other Santa Fe High School students that show Dimitri as we know him: a smart, quiet, sweet boy.”
Pagourtzis was very much a part of his community. He was on the honor roll, he played football and was a participating member with his family at a Greek Orthodox church. He had no criminal record, and his behavior had not warranted any red flags from teachers and students alike.
Since the shooting, the names of the fallen victims have been made public. The students were Kimberly Vaughan, Shana Fisher, Angelique Ramirez, Christian Riley Garcia, Jared Black, Sabika Sheikh, Christopher Jake Stone and Aaron Kyle McLeod. The two teachers were Glenda Perkins and Cynthia Tisdale.
One of the victims, Shana Fisher, 16, was reportedly targeted because she had rejected the suspect’s advances to go out with him. He had once dated her best friend and therefore, she refused his invitations to the point where she “stood up [in class] and told Pagourtzis she wouldn’t go out with him.”
“She’s never going to walk through the front door again,” said her mother, Sadie Baze.
One of the victims taken to the hospital with an injury was Santa Fe ISD Police Officer John Barnes, 49, who ran into the school in an attempt to subdue the shooter. Barnes was shot in the arm.
“He was willing to give up his life to save as many children as possible,” Houston Police Chaplain Monty Montgomery said.
At this time, the suspect’s family is cooperating with the police in their investigation as stated in their statement.
“We share the public’s hunger for answers as to why this happened, and will await the outcome of the investigation before speaking about these events. We have been and will continue to cooperate with the authorities conducting the investigation.”
Pagourtzis is being held without bail at Galveston County jail and is facing capital murder and aggravated assault charges. According to his attorney, Robert Barfield, the gunman has not stated a plea and is apparently “not doing well.” According to authorities, the suspect told them that he “did not shoot students he did like so he could have his story told.”
If found guilty for his crimes, Pagourtzis will not get the death penalty. At most, because he committed the crimes as a minor, Pagourtzis would only face life in prison, but he would have the possibility of parole after 40 years.