Santa Fe Community Mourns Those Killed In Texas School Shooting

May 21, 2018
Originally published on May 21, 2018 7:02 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The investigation continues today into the shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas. Law enforcement are still piecing together how and why a gunman killed 10 people and left a town in mourning. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang is in Santa Fe, Texas. He has been following the latest developments. And, Hansi, what have you learned so far about the investigation?

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Well, we got an update from law enforcement, local law enforcement here, including from Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset. Let's listen to what he said.

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HENRY TROCHESSET: Three doors down, my granddaughter was in that room. I think they're heroes, everybody that was out there that stayed engaged with him. Lucky the body count's not higher.

WANG: The county sheriff there really emphasized that this is an ongoing investigation. So there are a lot of questions still, but law enforcement couldn't give us many details. Some - what we did learn was that it took four minutes for officers to engage with the alleged shooter. And the alleged shooter was in the classroom, this art classroom, and the officers were in a hallway inside the school. And that's - the sheriff also said that there were minimal - quote, "minimal shots" fired by the officers. Exactly what that means we don't know.

And there was a question of, you know, are we for sure - do we know if any of the victims - were they possibly injured or killed by bullets from the crossfire, possibly, from law enforcement officers? And the sheriff said, you know, we can't be sure at this point because all the autopsies are not finished at this point. So it's an ongoing investigation.

We also learned that the suspect is still in county jail and is under suicide watch, and that the injured squad officer, police school - school police officer John Barnes, he is still in critical condition in the hospital. And so this is - still lots of moving parts. And we also learned that the school is opening for staff members starting this Wednesday. And then a week from tomorrow, students will be returning to Santa Fe High School.

CORNISH: In the meantime, what have you been hearing from other people who live in Santa Fe?

WANG: Well, I spent this morning on the field right outside the high school where there are 10 white wooden crosses that have been installed, one for each of the victims. There was a moment of silence as called for by the governor, Greg Abbott. And there were a number of students there remembering their fallen classmates. There were also staff members there. And it was a very, very quiet moment that lasted for a while as people just prayed and held hands.

I met with one student. Her name - Vanessa Hernandes, a 10th-grader. And she came with her mom Maria (ph). And she says she was in chemistry class when this happened. And she was really worried about going back to school and what that might mean for her. Here's what she told me.

VANESSA HERNANDES: Well, I'm actually, like, scared to go back. I don't know, like, what I'm going to think when I, like, pass by the art room or something.

WANG: She told me that she really hopes that the school increases the number of armed police - public safety officers, rather - and also that they install metal detectors to prevent firearms from being carried into the school again.

CORNISH: You know, after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., in February there were a lot of calls for more gun control from students. That was a student-led movement. Do you see anything growing like that in Santa Fe?

WANG: You know, so far most of the students I talked to - a common refrain is, you know, it's about people, not the guns. And they think that gun owners should be more careful, especially if they have children - teenagers living with them, to keep better control of them. And so I'm not necessarily hearing a lot of push for more gun control. And we'll see - tomorrow there's going to be a roundtable with the governor in Austin. We'll see what kind of ideas come out of that.

CORNISH: Hansi Lo Wang reporting from Santa Fe, Texas. Hansi, thanks so much.

WANG: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.