A gunman opened fire on students inside a South Texas high school Friday morning, killing nine students and one teacher, sources told NBC News. Explosives were found both on and off campus at Santa Fe High School.
A 17-year-old student is in custody whom sources told NBC News was Dimitrios Pagourtzis and a second person is being questioned. Under Texas law, a 17-year-old is considered an adult.
Explosive devices have been found at the scene of the shooting and off campus, officials said. They were rendering them safe and urged the community to be vigilant.
“Be on the lookout for any suspicious items,” Santa Fe Independent School District Police Chief Walter Braun said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to our students, staff and our community. Please pray for SFISD.”
Many details about the shooting still remained unclear, including whether the suspect acted alone.
Many students at the school, about 30 miles southeast of Houston, said they heard a fire alarm at about 7:30 a.m. and thought they were taking part in a fire drill, then realized what was happening when they heard gunshots and were told by teachers to run from the school.
“Whoever did this is really selfish and cold-hearted,” student Dakota Shrader said. “These are innocent people at this school. We did nothing to deserve this.”
It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since the February attack in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and re-energized the gun-control movement after surviving teens launched a campaign for reform.
The majority of those killed were students, said Ed Gonzalez, sheriff of nearby Harris County. The shooting occurred in Galveston County.
Gonzalez also said a second person had been detained and questioned and that a school district police officer was injured and was being treated. Officers were sweeping the school, he said.
Agents with the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Texas Department of Public Safety were on the scene, according to the school district.
President Donald Trump tweeted about the shooting, saying, “Early reports not looking good. God bless all!” First lady Melania Trump tweeted that her heart goes out to Santa Fe and Texas.
Trump later said at the White House he was monitoring the situation and pledged the government would help at all levels.
“We grieve for the terrible loss of life and send our love and support to everyone affected by the absolutely horrific attack,” Trump said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted that he is traveling to the scene and would give an update sometime after 1 p.m. CT. Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are also expected to speak. Earlier in the day, Abbott ordered flags across the state of Texas to be lowered to half-staff in memory of those whose lives were taken in the school shooting.
Shrader told NBC affiliate KPRC that students started leaving their classrooms when they heard what appeared to be a fire alarm, but soon teachers were telling them to run. She and a friend ran into the forest.
“Nobody knew what to do, all we did was run. There was nothing we could do but run,” she said.
A friend of hers was shot in the leg but is recovering in the hospital, Schrader said. She was upset and said she didn’t feel safe in school or the town anymore.
Angelica Martinez, a ninth-grade student, said it seemed like it was a fire drill at first.
“It was a fire drill, so we followed the procedures … we didn’t know it was an intruder,” she said on MSNBC, adding she would probably have hidden if she knew it had been an intruder.
Her mother, Angie Martinez, said she was on the phone with Angelica during the incident, telling her to run to a nearby gas station or find a hiding place.
“I thank God that a guardian angel was protecting her or something because she made it out alive,” Martinez sad.
A vigil is being planned for 6 p.m. CT Friday at Texas First Bank on Highway 6 where students and teachers are invited to join members of the Santa Fe community in remembering the victims of today’s tragedy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.