Substitute teacher with ‘lust for life’ among Texas school shooting victims
SANTA FE, Texas — A substitute teacher who relatives say had a “lust for life” and a foreign exchange student from Pakistan whose father expected her home in a few weeks are among the first confirmed victims of a mass shooting at a Texas high school.
Among those injured Friday are a school resource officer and a sophomore baseball player.
Seventeen-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis was being held on a capital murder charge after authorities say he fatally shot 10 people and wounded at least 13 others at his high school in Santa Fe, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southeast of Houston.
Here are some of their stories:
Family members confirmed that substitute teacher Cynthia Tisdale was among the victims killed in the shooting.
Tisdale’s niece, Leia Olinde, said Tisdale was like a mother to her and helped her shop for wedding dresses last year.
“She helped me put it on, she helped fix my hair,” Olinde said through tears.
“She was wonderful. She was just so loving,” said Olinde, 25. “I’ve never met a woman who loved her family so much.”
She said Tisdale was married to her husband for close to 40 years and that the two had three children and eight grandchildren.
Tisdale’s house was the center for family gatherings, and she loved cooking Thanksgiving dinner and decorating her house, Olinde said.
Olinde’s fiance, Eric Sanders, said of Tisdale that “words don’t explain her lust for life and the joy she got from helping people.”
Abdul Aziz Sheikh was expecting his daughter Sabika to return home to Pakistan in a few weeks for Eid al-Fitr, the three-day holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Instead, he learned that his oldest child was among those killed in the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, where Sabika arrived as an exchange student last August.
Surrounded by mourning friends and family at his home in Karachi on Saturday, Abdul Aziz Sheikh fought back tears as he relived his frantic efforts to check whether his daughter was safe half a world away. She wasn’t returning his calls and neither were her friends. He eventually learned from the exchange program that she was among the dead.
“We are still in a state of denial. We can’t believe it. It’s like a nightmare,” Sheikh told The Associated Press.
He said his daughter was a hard-working and accomplished student who aspired to work in civil service, hoping one day to join Pakistan’s Foreign Office.
“One should not lose his heart by such kind of incidents,” he said. “One should not stop going for education to the U.S. or U.K., or China, or anywhere. One must go for education undeterred. But controlling such incidents is the responsibility of the respective governments.”
School police officer John Barnes was shot in the arm when he confronted the gunman.
A bullet damaged the bone and a major blood vessel around Barnes’ elbow, which required surgery to repair, said David Marshall, chief nursing officer at the University of Texas Medical Branch. He said Barnes was in stable condition.
Barnes was the first to engage Pagourtzis, according to Marshall.
Sophomore baseball player Rome Shubert says the gunman walked into his classroom and tossed something onto desks.
Shubert told the Houston Chronicle that he then heard “three loud pops” before the attacker fled into the hall. Shubert says he realized he’d been wounded as he was running out the back door.
Shubert says he was hit in the back of his head with what he says was a bullet, but that it “missed everything vital.” He also tweeted that he was OK and stable.AlertMe