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Texas school shooter collapsed, confessed after trading ‘a lot of firepower’ with authorities, officials say

Texas school shooter. (Galveston County Sheriff's Office)

The 17-year-old student arrested Friday after 10 people were killed and 13 were injured at Santa Fe High School in Texas confessed to authorities, court documents reveal.

Why he did it, however, remains a mystery.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis was taken into custody after he collapsed in front of an art lab at the school near Houston, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in court.

He “admitted to shooting multiple people inside the school,” the document said.

A victim of bullying, Pagourtzis told authorities that he spared those students he liked so that his story could be told. He had intended to commit suicide, officials said.

Instead Pagourtzis “sort of fell to the ground and surrendered,” said U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, a former federal prosecutor.

McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said authorities found a couple of explosive devices at the school and “several” in Pagourtzis’ vehicle and home, and that they’ve been sent for testing to the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Va.

Another Texas official said the devices were essentially duds, incapable of detonating.

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said Saturday that authorities found a cluster of carbon dioxide canisters taped together, and a pressure cooker with an alarm clock and nails inside. But the canisters had no detonation device, and the pressure cooker had no explosive material, he said.

Henry also said police exchanged “a lot of firepower” with Pagourtzis before the junior at Santa Fe High surrendered.

Henry praised Officer John Barnes, the school resource officer who was critically wounded when he ran toward danger.

“He’s a hero in my book,” Henry said.

Santa Fe Independent School District Police Chief Walter Braun said the school resource officer was in critical condition but stable.

“Our officers went in there and did what they could, did what they trained for,” Braun said.

U.S. Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, also praised the officer’s response, saying it was “critical” to stopping the attack.

“The main thing that stops a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun,” he said.

A hospital treating three of the 13 people wounded in the mass shooting at a Texas high school says one patient, who is a minor, is in good condition and the other two are critical.

Hospitals Friday reported treating 14 people for injuries related to the shooting, but the FBI’s Houston office put the number at 13, revised from 10 Friday.

The investigation at the crime scene continued Saturday with FBI investigators and forensics teams scouring the school’s hallways for evidence.

The parking lot at Santa Fe High was still filled with vehicles, many of them belonging to students who had to leave them overnight.

Junior Tori White came a little too early to pick up her car. She spoke softly, her arm crossed over her chest, holding her elbow.

White described Friday morning, how the teachers told them to run across the street. She pointed at the front doors of the school, drawing the students’ escape path with her hand. Students in the back of the school ran to the fields, she said.

She said she talked to the shooter once or twice but never more than superficial conversations.

“He kept to himself,” White said.

On Saturday, Pagourtzis remained in the Galveston County Jail charged with capital murder and aggravated assault against a public servant. He was being held without bail.

His lawyer said Pagourtzis is cooperating fully with authorities.

“Obviously this is a tough situation,” Nicholas Poehl told the Houston Chronicle. “He’s in difficult circumstances. He’s behaving consistently with that.”

School officials said classes would be canceled Monday and Tuesday.


© 2018 The Dallas Morning News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.