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10 shot dead at Houston-area high school; explosives found

"We are with you in this tragic hour and we will be with you forever," President Donald Trump told the community in Santa Fe, Texas.

By Susan McFarland and Danielle Haynes
10 shot dead at Houston-area high school; explosives found
Harris County Sheriff's deputies are stationed at Santa Fe High School after a shooting Friday that officials said resulted in multiple casualties. Photo courtesy Harris County Sheriff/Twitter

May 18 (UPI) -- Ten people died Friday at a southeast Texas high school after a fellow student opened fire on the Houston-area campus, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said.

At an afternoon news conference, the governor confirmed the deaths and 10 injuries at Santa Fe High School. He described it as "the worst disaster ever to strike this community."

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"It's impossible to describe the magnitude of the evil of someone who would attack innocent children in a school," he said

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the dead included mostly students and at least one adult, including an officer.

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Joe Gamaldi of the Houston Police Officers Union tweeted, "Please keep the officers in your prayers as one officer is being life flighted to the hospital."

Abbott said the suspected gunman, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, was arrested, and two other persons of interest were being questioned, including one person on the scene of the shooting who reacted suspiciously. The Galveston County Sheriff's Office said on its Facebook page Friday afternoon that Pagourtzis had been booked into the Galveston County Jail, where he was held without bond.

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The alleged gunman appeared in court Friday afternoon where he was charged with capital murder.

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"At the moment he's in solitary confinement," Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said. "He's going to be here a while."

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Abbott said law enforcement officials had warrants to search two residences and a vehicle belonging to the suspect, but authorities were taking their time out of fear of triggering explosive devices. He said there were more than two devices -- one he described as a "CO2 device" and a Molotov cocktail.

Explosives were found in a residence and a vehicle.

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The shooting began before 8 a.m. Friday and the campus was immediately locked down as students were moved to a nearby gym.

A student told KHOU he saw the shooter walk into a building with a gun and heard the school's fire alarm. As students came out, he heard gunshots and saw at least one girl with a knee injury. A 10th-grader said her friend was shot while in art class.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the shooter hid his weapons under a long coat. Abbott confirmed the shooter had a shotgun and a 38 revolver, both of which belonged to the shooter's father.

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The governor said investigators had information from the shooter's journals and computer to indicate he intended to die by suicide after the shooting. Instead, he gave himself up to police.

Abbott said the shooting should inspire conversations in Texas and local communities about how to protect children in schools from gun violence. He said he planned to hold roundtable discussions with any parties with an interest in school safety, gun control and protection of Second Amendment rights next week "to work immediately on swift solutions to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again."

He said he wants to put "together laws that will protect Second Amendment rights but at the same time ensure that our communities and especially our schools are safer places."

The governor prepared policy suggestions he said he intended to present to the Texas Legislature next week, including speeding up background checks, keeping guns out of the hands of those who pose an immediate danger to others, increase safety personnel at schools and provide resources for mental health services.

President Donald Trump tweeted about the shooting, "School shooting in Texas. Early reports not looking good. God bless all!"

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"This business has been going on too long in our country," Trump said a short time later at a news conference, calling the shooting "an absolutely horrific attack."

"We are with you in this tragic hour and we will be with you forever."

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