Santa Fe High: The Latest School Thrust Onto the List of Mass Shootings
By Corey Mitchell and Denisa R. Superville
Less than a month ago, some students at Santa Fe High School participated in a nationwide school walkout to raise awareness about gun violence.
Today, students, staff, and residents in the southeastern Texas community are reeling from a shooting at their own high school that left at least 10 people dead and 13 others injured.
The suspected shooter, a 17-year-old male student, is in police custody.
Before Friday's shooting, the 1,460-student school was perhaps best known as having been at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case on whether students can lead prayers over the public-address system at football games.
Now it has joined the long list of schools where shooters have gunned down students or staff this year: the shooting in Santa Fe marks the 12th school shooting in 2018 with injuries or deaths, according to Education Week's school shooting database.
By our count, the shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, this morning is the 12th school shooting this year with injuries or deaths. We are updating our school shooting tracker with information about the situation as it emerges. https://t.co/AdWdtyT1Se pic.twitter.com/V3l9orP8yI— Education Week (@educationweek) May 18, 2018
Among the people injured in Friday's shooting was John Barnes, one of two police officers stationed at Santa Fe High. Barnes is a part of a seven-member police department dedicated to protecting the Santa Fe Independent School District's four schools and 4,700 students. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Friday that Santa Fe High was one of 186 schools in the state of Texas that had received recognition for safety measures.
Santa Fe High had a scare back in February—soon after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.—when school leaders placed the building on lockdown after reports of "popping sounds thought to be gun shots heard outside the school and in the area," the Houston Chronicle reported.
On Friday, local authorities said explosive devices were found at the school and in the surrounding area.
#UPDATE There have been explosive devices found in the high school and surrounding areas adjacent to the high school. Because of the threat of explosive items, community members should be on the look-out for suspicious packages and anything that looks out of place.— Santa Fe ISD (@SantaFeISD) May 18, 2018
Anyone with information including photos or videos depicting today's events is asked to contact our Command Center at 409-927-3310. #SantaFeISD— Santa Fe ISD (@SantaFeISD) May 18, 2018
'More Than Thoughts and Prayers'
Both U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and President Donald Trump pledged support and offered condolences:
My heart is broken and my prayers are with the students, parents, faculty and first responders at Santa Fe High School. The work of the Federal Commission on School Safety remains urgent. This trend cannot continue. Our nation must come together to keep our students safe. pic.twitter.com/s5u4tcgtDP— Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVosED) May 18, 2018
Our team stands ready to assist @GovAbbott, Dr. Superintendent Wall and @SantaFeISD in the aftermath of today's tragedy. No student should have to experience the trauma suffered by so many today and in similar events prior. We simply cannot allow this trend to continue.— Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVosED) May 18, 2018
We grieve for the terrible loss of life, and send our support and love to everyone affected by this horrible attack in Texas. To the students, families, teachers and personnel at Santa Fe High School - we are with you in this tragic hour, and we will be with you forever... pic.twitter.com/LtJ0D29Hsv— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2018
On Feb. 14, a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire at the school killing 17 people. The Santa Fe High shooting is the deadliest since that Valentine Day's massacre.
The mass shooting in Parkland has sparked an outpouring of activism against gun violence and reinvigorated the national debate over gun rights and school safety.
Student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas and others, including former education secretary Arne Duncan, rebuked the call for thoughts and prayers on Friday, demanding action from government.
Santa Fe High, you didn't deserve this. You deserve peace all your lives, not just after a tombstone saying that is put over you. You deserve more than Thoughts and Prayers, and after supporting us by walking out we will be there to support you by raising up your voices.— Emma González (@Emma4Change) May 18, 2018
This has been my fear since February 14th, that another mass casualty shooting would happen before we did anything. Now, we have 8 more children dead and our leadership in Washington has done nothing. We do not need thoughts and prayers, we need action and we need it now.— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) May 18, 2018
To all those sending "thoughts and prayers" to victims of gun violence and their families- but NOT also advocating for policy change, I have one question:— Arne Duncan (@arneduncan) May 18, 2018
Have "thoughts and prayers" ever prevented a child from being shot?
Photo Credit: Law enforcement personnel respond at Santa Fe High School after an active shooter was reported on the campus on May 18 in Santa Fe, Texas.
--Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP