At least eight people were killed in a shooting Friday morning at a high school in Southeast Texas, police said, and a student was taken into custody amid the carnage.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said there were “between 8 and 10 people” killed, most of them students at Santa Fe High School in Galveston County, south of Houston. Some faculty members were also killed in the shooting, which appear before 8 a.m., he said.
Gonzalez said one male student was taken into custody, and he said a second person — another student described as “a person of interest” — was being detained and questioned.
The gunfire in Santa Fe was the latest eruption of gun violence to terrorize students and teachers alike, and it came just three months after a gunman in Parkland, Fla., killed 17 students and staff members at a high school there.
Gonzalez said authorities were still searching the campus to make sure there were no other people hidden, and he warned they could still find other people injured or killed. He warned that the death toll could shift.
The school district reported shortly after 11 a.m. that “possible explosive devices” were found both at the school and off-campus.
“Law enforcement is in the procedure of rendering them safe,” the school district said. “School has been evacuated.”
Witnesses described panic and confusion as the shots were fired. Students in an art room fled as a gunman came inside, and someone pulled a fire alarm at some point Friday morning.
“Everybody took off,” student Tyler Turner told ABC-13 in Houston. “I heard three shots.”
Turner said that after he was out of harm’s way, he called his mother and then he heard four more shots.
The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston said it had received at least three patients wounded in the incident.
At a press conference, Raul Reyes, an agent for the hospital, said all three had gunshot wounds, including one middle-aged man who was rushed immediately into surgery in critical condition with chest injuries.
The president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, Joseph Gamaldi, said a law enforcement officer had been shot and taken to an area hospital via helicopter.
Gamaldi said the injured officer is a Santa Fe Independent School District Police officer who had retired from the Houston police. In a telephone interview, Gamaldi said he did not have any information on the officer’s condition.
Television footage showed students walking away from the main school building under the watch of law enforcement officers. Ambulances were on the scene, as well as Life Flight helicopters.
The shooting prompted a huge response from local, state and federal agents. Harris County and Galveston County sheriff’s deputies were responding, as well as officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Heavily armed officers in tactical gear were seen deploying at the school, an image that has become grimly familiar from shootings across the country.
The shooting was the 16th so far this year at a school during school hours, according to a Washington Post analysis, the highest number at this point in any year since 1999, the year of the Columbine High massacre. The Post’s analysis found that since 1999, shootings during school hours have killed at least 139 children, educators and other people have been slain in these shootings and another 277 injured.
President Trump decried the shooting Texas and spoke to those impacted by the violence.
“This has been going on too long in our country — too many years, too many decades now,” Trump said during remarks in Washington. “We grieve for the terrible loss of life and send our support and love to everyone affected by this absolutely horrific attack.”
Students who survived the Parkland massacre posted a message of support to those who endured the attack in Santa Fe, decrying what they said would “continue to happen unless action is taken.”