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Texas suspect spared those he liked so they’d tell his story, documents show

Related Story: 'Quiet' student shoots and kills 10 at his Texas high school Related Story: 'I've hit rock bottom': Police chief calls for action after Texas shooting

The 17-year-old student who authorities say killed 10 people when he opened fire in an art class in his Texas high school appeared "weirdly non-emotional" after the rampage, one of his lawyers has revealed.

Key points:

  • Dimitrios Pagourtzis has been charged with capital murder and is being held without bail
  • He spared people he liked so he could have his side of the story told, charging papers show
  • His family says the bloodshed "seems incompatible with the boy we love"

The teenager, identified by authorities as Dimitrios Pagourtzis, has been charged with capital murder and is being held without bail in Santa Fe, Texas, where authorities said he went on a shooting spree shortly before 8:00am on Friday (local time).

The suspect began his attack by firing a shotgun through an art classroom door, shattering a glass pane and sending panicked students to the entryway to block him from getting inside, witnesses said.

Mr Pagourtzis fired again through the wooden part of the door and fatally hit a student in the chest. He then lingered for about 30 minutes in a warren of four rooms, killing seven more students and two teachers before exchanging gunfire with police and surrendering, officials said.

'It was going to happen eventually': Students discuss school shooting.

Freshman Abel San Miguel saw his friend Chris Stone killed at the door.

Mr San Miguel got grazed in the stomach by another volley of shots. He and others survived by playing dead.

"We were on the ground, all piled up in random positions," he said.

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, the county's chief administrator, said he did not think Friday's attack was 30 minutes of constant shooting, and that assessment was consistent with other officials who said officers contained the shooter quickly.

Judge Mark Henry before giving Dimitrios Pagourtzis his arraignment.

But authorities did not release a detailed timeline to explain precisely how events unfolded.

In addition to 10 fatalities, the gunman injured at least 13 people, with two of them in a critical condition. One of those in a critical condition was one of the two school resource officers who engaged the shooter before his surrender.

Nicholas Poehl, one of two lawyers hired by the suspect's parents to represent him, told Reuters he had spent a total of one hour with Mr Pagourtzis on Friday night and Saturday morning.

Dimitrious Pagourtzis walks into his arraignment at the Galveston County Jail in handcuffs and a jumpsuit

"He's very emotional and weirdly non-emotional," Mr Poehl said when asked to describe his client's state of mind.

"There are aspects of it he understands and there are aspects he doesn't understand."

As the shooting unfolded, Mr Pagourtzis spared people he liked so he could have his side of the story told, a charging document showed, but there was no immediate indication why he apparently targeted the art class.

Suspect's family 'saddened and dismayed'

In their first statement since the massacre, Mr Pagourtzis's family said the bloodshed "seems incompatible with the boy we love".

They said they were "saddened and dismayed" by the shooting and "as shocked as anyone else" by the events. They said they were cooperating with authorities.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis weas an orange jumpsuit in a mugshot

Investigators had seen a photo of a T-shirt on Mr Pagourtzis's Facebook page that read "Born to Kill," and authorities were examining his journal, Texas Governor Greg Abbott told reporters. But there were no outward signs he had been planning an attack.

Though Mr Pagourtzis allegedly wrote about his intention to carry out the attack, authorities have not established a motive for the violence.

The mother of one of the 10 victims said her daughter recently rejected Mr Pagourtzis' romantic advances, a possible motive for the violent tragedy.

Sadie Rodriguez said her daughter Shana Fisher had made it clear that she was not interested in him.

"He continued to get more aggressive," Ms Rodriguez told The Associated Press in an interview conducted via Facebook.

"She finally stood up to him and embarrassed him."

The incident took place one week before the shooting, Ms Rodriguez said.

Shana Fisher

Asked about Ms Rodriguez's allegation, Mr Poehl said he had not heard about any such interaction between Mr Pagourtzis and any of the victims and therefore could not comment.

"That's news to me," Mr Poehl said, though he cautioned he had spent much of the day disputing false rumours about the teen's personal life.

Mr Pagourtzis waived his right to remain silent and made a statement to authorities admitting to the shooting, according to an affidavit ahead of his arrest.

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

Asked if Mr Pagourtzis had provided authorities with information about the shootings, Mr Poehl said: "Honestly because of his emotional state, I don't have a lot on that."

Santa Fe High School, south-east of Houston, became the scene of the fourth-deadliest mass shooting at a US public school in modern history, joining a long list of campuses where students and faculty have fallen victim to gunfire.

The shooting again stoked the nation's long-running debate over gun ownership, three months after a student-led gun control movement emerged from a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 teens and educators dead.

Officials retrieve belongings from inside the school which remains closed.

Students and faculty, bussed on to campus in small groups, were allowed to enter the high school on Saturday to retrieve belongings, though investigators closed off a section of the grounds. Police kept reporters away.

All schools in the Santa Fe school district will remain closed on Monday and Tuesday, officials said.

In a letter to parents superintendent Leigh Wall said eight of the dead were students and two were teachers. Authorities had earlier said that nine students and one teacher were killed.

Women embrace during a prayer vigil

Classmates at the school of 1,460 students described Mr Pagourtzis as a quiet loner who played on the football team. On Friday, they said he wore a trench coat to school on a day when temperatures topped 32 degrees Celsius.

Mr Abbott told reporters Mr Pagourtzis obtained firearms from his father, who had likely acquired them legally, and also left behind explosive devices.

He said Mr Pagourtzis wanted to commit suicide, citing the suspect's journals, but did not have the courage to do so.

Cars still sit in the parking lot where they were left as the sun sets on Santa Fe High School.

Some aspects of the shooting had echoes of the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999.

The two teenage killers in that incident wore trench coats, used shotguns and planted improvised explosives, killing 10 before killing themselves.

The legacy of Columbine

Reuters/AP

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