Texas high-schooler kills at least eight in echo of Parkland massacre

 Texas high-schooler kills at least eight in echo of Parkland massacre

By Liz Hampton and Erwin Seba

SANTA FE, Texas (Reuters) - A male student entered a Texas high school on Friday and shot dead at least eight people, including fellow pupils, officials said, just three months after a similar massacre in Florida sparked a youth-led "Never Again" gun-control movement.

Students said a gunman opened fire in a classroom at Santa Fe High School shortly before 8 a.m. CT (1300 GMT) on Friday, and that they fled in panic after seeing classmates wounded and a fire alarm triggered a full evacuation. At least nine people were injured.

It was the latest in a long series of deadly shootings at U.S. schools. Seventeen teens and educators were shot dead at a Parkland, Florida, high school in February, a massacre that stirred the nation's long-running debate over gun ownership.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said that eight to 10 people, both students and adults, died in the incident at the school about 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Houston.

"There is one person, a suspect, in custody and a second possible person of interest that is detained and being questioned," Gonzalez said at a news conference.

The suspect is a 17-year-old male, a law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation told Reuters.

Explosive devices had also been found at the school and off campus, Gonzalez tweeted. "Law enforcement is in the process of rendering them safe."

The gunman was armed with an AR-15 assault-style rifle, a shotgun, a pistol and pipe bombs, the Houston Chronicle reported, citing an unnamed senior law enforcement official.

At least nine people were taken to area hospitals for treatment, hospital officials said. The conditions of those people was not immediately clear. Gonzalez said a police officer was also being treated for injuries.

'THE GUY BEHIND ME WAS DEAD'

Courtney Marshall, a 15-year-old freshman at the school, said the gunman came into her art class shooting.

"I wanted to take care of my friends, but I knew I had to get out of there," Marshall said, saying that she saw at least one person hit. "I knew the guy behind me was dead."

Orlando Gonzalez said that his 16-year-old son Keaton, fled the attack, but one of his friends was shot and wounded.

"I was really worried, I didn't know what was going on ... I almost couldn't drive," Gonzalez said. "I just imagine what he's going through ... He's still scared."

U.S. President Donald Trump called the latest school massacre heartbreaking.

"My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves and to others," Trump said at the White House.

Days after the Parkland shooting, Trump said that elected officials should be ready to "fight" the powerful National Rifle Association lobby group. Early this month he embraced that group, telling its annual meeting in Dallas "your Second Amendment rights are under siege."

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right to bear arms.

No major federal gun controls have been imposed since Parkland, though the administration is pursuing a proposed regulatory ban on "bump stocks," which enable a semi-automatic rifle to fire a steady stream of bullets. The devices were used in an October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 59 people but have not played a role in other major U.S. mass shootings.

(Additional reporting by Ernest Scheyder and Liz Hampton in Houston, Gina Cherelus and Peter Szekely in New York and Mark Hosenball and Ian Simpson in Washington; Writing by Daniel Wallis and Scott Malone; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Susan Thomas)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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Updated Date: May 19, 2018 00:07:10 IST