Texas school victim ‘rejected shooter’s advances’ before attack
The Texas high school gunman was rejected by a 16-year-old girl a week before she became one of his ten victims, according to her grieving mother.
Sadie Rodriguez said her daughter, Shana Fisher, had been pursued for four months by Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the 17-year-old who opened fire at Santa Fe High School near Houston last Friday.
One week ago she publicly rejected him in front of classmates after "four months of problems with this boy", Miss Rodriguez told the Los Angeles Times newspaper.
She said he continued to get more aggressive until Shana finally stood up to him and embarrassed him in class.
“He kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no. A week later he opens fire on everyone he didn’t like. Shana being the first one."
The mother of a survivor revealed that Pagourtzis, who killed ten and injured 13 more, taunted his victims yelling "woo hoo" and "are you dead?" as he took aim just after 8am in an art classroom.
Writing an open letter on Facebook, Deedra Van Ness, whose daughter Isabelle survived the massacre, detailed the teenager’s experience as she cowered from the gunman, covered in dust from bullets hitting the classroom walls and surrounded by the dead bodies of her classmates.
Ms Van Ness wrote: "They hear the gunman in the classroom next door yelling Woo Hoo! and firing more shots. "The gunman then comes back into their room and they hear him saying … are you dead? Then more shots are fired.
"By this time, cell phones all over the classroom are ringing and he’s taunting the kids in the closet asking them … do you think it’s for you? do you want to come answer it? Then he proceeds to fire more bullets into the closet and tries to get in."
Pagourtzis was on Sunday being held in solitary confinement after being charged with the murder of eight students and two teachers.
According to authorities, the student admitted to "shooting multiple people."
He allegedly used a shotgun and a revolver held legally by his father, Antonios.
On Saturday the family of the suspect released a statement saying they were "saddened and dismayed" and extending their "heartfelt prayers and condolences to all of the victims."
"We are gratified by the public comments made by other Santa Fe High School students that show Dimitri as we know him: a smart, quiet, sweet boy."
The statement continued: "While we remain mostly in the dark about the specifics of yesterday’s tragedy, what we have learned from media reports seems incompatible with the boy we love."
Meanwhile the debate over gun control was reignited in the US media Oliver North, the incoming president of the National Rifle Association blamed the increase in school shootings on the "culture of violence" and prescription drugs.
Speaking on the Fox News channel, Mr North said: "The disease in this case isn’t the 2nd amendment. The disease is youngsters who are steeped in a culture of violence. They’ve been drugged in many cases.
“Nearly all of these perpetrators are male, and they’re young teenagers in most cases, and they’ve come through a culture where violence is commonplace.”
“All we need to do is turn on a TV, go to a movie. If you look at what has happened to the young people, many of these young boys have been on Ritalin since they were in kindergarten. Now, I am certainly not a doctor; I’m a Marine. But I can see those kinds of things happening.”
On the same show, Mark Kelly, the gun control advocate whose wife Gabby Giffords was shot and badly injured, said schools should have increased security and also argued that the US must prevent dangerous individuals from obtaining a gun.
“We should make it more difficult I mean figure out a way to prevent people coming in the door with a firearm,” he said.
“At the same time, make sure that that irresponsible person can’t get the gun in the first place.”
So far this year there have been 22 school shootings with 36 fatalities.