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Survivors mourn Texas school shooting victims

Survivors mourn Texas school shooting victims

A prayer vigil was held in Texas on Friday (May 18) after a 17-year-old student armed with a shotgun and pistol opened fire at his Texas high school, killing nine students and a teacher, authorities said, in an attack with eerie echoes of the massacre at a Florida high school in February.

Students said the gunman, identified by law enforcement as Dimitrios Pagourtzis, opened fire in an art class at Santa Fe High School shortly before 8 a.m. (1200 GMT). Students and staff fled after seeing classmates wounded and a fire alarm triggered a full evacuation.

The incident was the latest in a long series of deadly shootings at U.S. schools. Seventeen teens and educators were fatally shot in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, a massacre that stirred the nation’s long-running debate over gun ownership.

Classmates described Pagourtzis as a quiet loner who played on the football team. On Friday, they said, he wore a trench coat to school in Santa Fe, located about 30 miles (50 km) southeast of Houston, on a day when temperatures topped 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).

Pagourtzis was charged with capital murder and denied bail at a brief court hearing later on Friday, where he appeared in handcuffs and wearing a green prison jumpsuit. He spoke in a soft voice and said “Yes sir” when asked if he wanted a court-appointed attorney, along with other questions.

According to the charging document reported by local media, Pagourtzis picked his victims, choosing not to shoot students he liked so he could have his story told.

At least two of those injured were in critical condition, including a school police officer shot when he tried to take on the suspect, hospital officials said.

Survivors mourn Texas school shooting victims.