As the community in Santa Fe, Texas, continues to mourn the loss of 10 people killed during the country’s latest mass shooting, one of the survivors says the issue has nothing to do with gun laws.
- Monica Bracknell says attack should not become political battle over gun control
- Governor Dan Patrick says entrances to schools should be restricted and teachers should be armed
- First funerals for victims are held
A 17-year-old student armed with a shotgun and pistol opened fire in a Texas high school on Friday, claiming the lives of eight students and two teachers.
It is the latest in a string of mass shootings which have reignited debate about US gun-control laws.
But Monica Bracknell, an 18-year-old senior who survived the shooting, stopped to tell the Governor ahead of a church service for the victims that the attack should not be turned into a political battle over gun control.
@ailworth: “Before services at Arcadia First Baptist on Sunday, 18-year-old Monice Bracknell told Gov Abbott the SantaFe tragedy wasn’t about guns…”
Surrounded by television cameras, photographers and reporters she told Texas Governor Greg Abbott guns were not to blame.
“People are making this into a political issue,” she said she told him.
“This is not a political issue. It’s not a gun-law issue.
“It’s a this-kid-was-able-to-get-into-the-school-very-easily issue.”
Also Sunday (local time), Texas Lt Governor Dan Patrick called for a “hardening” of the nation’s school buildings in the wake of the attack.
Mr Patrick, a Republican, blamed a “culture of violence” for the school shooting, specifically naming video games and abortion procedures as factors.
“We have incredible, heinous violence as a game, two hours a day in front of their eyes. And we stand here and wonder why,” he said,
“According to psychologists and psychiatrists, 97 per cent of teenagers view video games, and 85 per cent of those video games are violent.
“What are these games showing you how to do? Kill people.”
Mr Patrick said more needed to be done to keep shooters away from students, such as restricting school entrances and arming teachers.
“When you’re facing someone who’s an active shooter, the best way to take that shooter down is with a gun. But even better than that is four to five guns to one,” he told CNN.
@CNN: “Texas GOP Lt Governor Dan Patrick says after the nation’s latest school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, that teachers need guns, parents should secure firarms safely at home, and school should eliminated some of their entrances”
“I was in the hospital visiting with a student who was wounded and a lot of his classmates were there. When we [Governor Abbott and I and Senator Ted Cruz] asked them, they all said they thought their parents and their teachers should be armed.
“We need armed teachers, trained of course, not just anyone who has a gun but trained in how to handle active shooters.
“We need to harden the target … we need to get down to one or two entrances into our schools. You have the necessary exits for fire of course but we have to follow our students into our schools so we can put eyes on them.
“We may have to look at the design of our schools moving forward, and retrofitting schools that are already built.”
On America’s ABC network, Mr Patrick said he supported background checks for gun purchasers but stressed, “gun regulation starts at home.”
Mr Patrick has come under fire on social media for his comments suggesting the school should have had fewer doors.
Town worships after attack
Congregations in this deeply religious community near Houston gathered on Sunday for their first worship services since the attack.
Hundreds have paid their respects at a packed Houston-area mosque in the first funeral for a shooting victim.
An overflow crowd sat in folding chairs in a breezeway outside the main area of worship to watch the service for Pakistani exchange student Sabika Sheikh.
Student Jaelyn Cogburn cries as she speaks about Pakistani exchange student Sabika Sheikh, who lived with her family. (AP: David J Phillip)
Ms Sheikh’s host sister, Jaelyn Cogburn, who has attended Santa Fe High for less than a year spoke at her funeral.
“It was hard when I started school because I didn’t know anybody, but then I met Sabika. She was the most beautiful, loving person I’ve ever met,” she said.
Ms Sheikh’s father, Abdul Aziz Sheikh, described his daughter as an accomplished student who aspired to work in civil service and hoped one day to join Pakistan’s foreign office. Her body is to be returned to her family in Karachi.
Abdul Aziz Sheikh, center, father of Sabika Sheikh, shows a picture of his daughter in Karachi. (AP: Fareed Khan)
Shooting victims named:
- Cynthia Tisdale (teacher)
- Sabika Sheikh
- Chris Stone
- Jared Black
- Shana Fisher
- Glenda Anne Perkins (teacher)
- Kimberly Vaughan
- Angelique Ramirez
- Christian Riley Garcia
- Aaron Kyle McLeod
In their first statement since the massacre, the family of 17-year-old suspect Dimitrios Pagourtzis said on Saturday the bloodshed, “seems incompatible with the boy we love”.
“We are as shocked and confused as anyone else by these events,” said the statement, which offered prayers and condolences to the victims.
Relatives said they remained “mostly in the dark about the specifics” of the attack and shared “the public’s hunger for answers”.
The 17-year-old suspect has been jailed on capital murder charges. His attorney, Nicholas Poehl, said he was investigating whether his client endured any “teacher-on-student” bullying after reading reports he had been mistreated by football coaches.
In an online statement, the school district said it investigated the accusations and “confirmed that these reports were untrue”.
Mr Poehl said there was no history of mental health issues with his client, though there may be “some indications of family history”. He said it was too early to elaborate.
This undated photo from Facebook shows Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who law enforcement officials have taken into custody and identified as the suspect. (AP: Facebook )