Father of Texas school-shooting suspect thinks he was bullied
SANTA FE, TEXAS
A 17-year-old student accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Texas high school should be seen as a “victim” because he may have recently been bullied, causing him to lash out, his father said.
In a phone interview over the weekend with Greece’s Antenna TV, Antonios Pagourtzis said he wished he could have stopped the killing Friday at Santa Fe High School. His voice cracked as he described how he told police to let him inside the school so his son, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, could kill him instead. He said he suspects his son was under pressure, perhaps due to bullying.
“Something must have happened now, this last week,” he told the station. “Somebody probably came and hurt him, and since he was a solid boy, I don’t know what could have happened. I can’t say what happened. All I can say is what I suspect as a father.”
The suspect’s attorney, Nicholas Poehl, has said he is investigating whether his client endured any “teacher-on-student” bullying after reading reports of the teen being mistreated by football coaches. The school district issued a statement saying it investigated the accusations and “confirmed that these reports were untrue.”
The elder Pagourtzis said his son took a legally owned shotgun and handgun from his closet before leaving for school that day. The teen didn’t own firearms of his own, he said.
Dimitrios Pagourtzis is being held in the Galveston County jail on capital murder charges. Authorities say eight students and two teachers were killed in the attack, and 13 others wounded.
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott convened the first of three roundtable meetings to address school violence and safety.
In so doing, he pledged to seek ways to prevent more school shootings like the one Friday at a high school in Santa Fe.
Tuesday’s meeting was with school administrators, law enforcement and officials with programs that arm Texas teachers. Abbott said he’ll meet today with gun-rights and gun-control advocacy groups and Thursday with victims of the attack at Santa Fe High School and the November attack on a church in Sutherland Springs.
Abbott says everyone shares a “common goal – to protect innocent lives.”