News

Santa Fe Independent School District Boosts Security

Officials also want to hire more counselors to identify Santa Fe students exhibiting signs of mental health disorders

Police tape in front of Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas on May 20, 2018.

The Santa Fe Independent School District, where eight students and two teachers were fatally shot last month, has implemented security measures increasing the number of police officers and guards on campuses.

Santa Fe ISD said the increased security presence began Wednesday at the district’s four schools southeast of Houston.

A district spokeswoman on Thursday didn’t specify just how many additional police officers and security guards are planned or what the cost may be. The U.S. Education Department last week announced that the district will receive a $1 million federal grant, and Gov. Greg Abbott has said the state will have access to nearly $70 million in federal and state grants for school security measures he wants implemented.

Officials also want to hire more counselors to identify Santa Fe students exhibiting signs of mental health disorders, while flagging other students who appear prone to violence. The steps introduced in Santa Fe align with recommendations Abbott has made following a series of recent roundtable discussions he held on school shootings.

Also Wednesday, a district police officer and a student who were injured in the May 18 Santa Fe High School shooting were released from the hospital.

Officer John Barnes was discharged after spending weeks in intensive care, according to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Barnes suffered a gunshot wound to the elbow that severed veins and caused a significant loss of blood. His wife, Ashley Barnes, previously told the Houston Chronicle that her husband’s heart had stopped twice before being revived by emergency personnel.

Also discharged Wednesday was 16-year-old Sarah Salazar, who was shot while seeking cover in a supply closet, the Chronicle reported. Two of her classmates died next to her.

Salazar — who was visited in the hospital by pop star Justin Timberlake and Houston Texans All-Pro J.J. Watt — had surgeries to repair her jaw, and her teeth are wired shut. She’ll need shoulder replacement surgery in the coming days.

A 17-year-old student who authorities say was the gunman is being held on charges of capital murder and aggravated assault of a public servant.

Authorities say in a criminal complaint that Dimitrios Pagourtzis admitted to investigators that he was the gunman and did not shoot students he liked so that they could tell his story. Pagourtzis is accused of using a shotgun and .38 revolver that belonged to his father.

A message left for one of his attorneys, Nicholas Poehl, was not returned Thursday.

Share