- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2018

The suspect in the Santa Fe High School mass shooting that left 10 dead has been placed on suicide watch, according to authorities.

Charged with capital murder and being held without bond is 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis Jr., who admitted to authorities that he opened fire at the school but did not kill students he liked “so that he could have his story told,” according to the police affidavit.

“Right now he’s in the Galveston County jail under suicide watch, in there for capital murder. Seventeen years old,” said Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset at a Monday press conference in Santa Fe, Texas.

Police Chief Walter Braun of the Santa Fe Independent School District said Officer John Barnes, the school resource officer who was shot during theFriday rampage as he confronted the gunman, remains in intensive care.

“Officer Barnes is still in ICU,” said Chief Braun. “He’s had subsequent surgeries and he’s had ups and downs. Today was a down day. We’re still in prayer and hope he recovers.

Questions have been raised about why it took 30 minutes between the time the first calls were made to law enforcement and the suspect surrendered, but Sheriff Trochesset said officers were at the scene engaging the suspect in about four minutes.

The officers, including Officer Barnes, exchanged gunfire from their position in the hallway with the shooter, who was located in an art classroom.

“It took approximately four minutes before the first officers, the heroes, engaged,” said Sheriff Trochesset. “One was wounded and now is in critical condition in the hospital, the other continued to engage until backup arrived.”

He said the officers were able to hold the gunman at bay, which saved lives.

“At that point, that individual continued just to engage them, which saved so many lives. It was contained to that one area,” said the sheriff. “I think they’re heroes, everybody that was out there who stayed engaged with him. We’re lucky the body count’s not higher.”

The 49-year-old officer flatlined twice after being admitted Friday to the hospital, his wife Ashley Barnes told the Houston Chronicle. School officials said teachers and administrators are expected to return to the school Wednesday, and classes are scheduled to resume May 29.

Eight students and two teachers were killed and 13 others hurt in the rampage.

The sheriff said he didn’t think any of the victims were hit by the crossfire between the officers and the gunman.

Chief Braun warned locals not to believe everything they read on social media about the investigation, which is being led by the FBI.

“Considerable time must be taken to painstakingly separate facts from fiction, the truth from rumors, so I’m asking our Santa Fe school family not to rely on local social media outlets as a source of factual information,” the chief said.

For Sheriff Trochesset, the shooting hit close to home: Not only did his wife and children attend Santa Fe High, but his granddaughter was just three doors down from where the gunman opened fire during the first-period art class.

“Her best friend that spent the night at my house, swam in my pool, is dead from a tragedy,” said the sheriff.


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