Santa Fe High students, substitute teacher describe moments after shooting

Logan Pettus had fallen asleep during a movie in his U.S. history class at Santa Fe High School on Friday morning when he was startled awake by a blaring fire alarm.

“I didn’t think there was a drill today,” his teacher said, according to Pettus.

He and his classmates got up and began to head outside to do a regular drill.

“Then I heard four shots,” Pettus, 17, said, noting his class was on the high school’s first floor.

Ten people were killed Friday morning, including nine students and one teacher, at the high school south of Houston when a 17-year-old opened fire on the campus, officials said.

This school shooting follows the Valentine’s Day attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people, many of them students, dead.

Pettus told the American-Statesman he was waiting to hear about the status of his friend, Chris Stone, Friday afternoon. The pair, who are both juniors at the high school, had carpooled to campus Friday, he said. Stone was in the same room as the shooter, Pettus said. The shots began in an art class on the first floor, he said.

“I got a little scared when the teachers told us to run,” he said. “As I was running, I actually heard six more (shots). I called my stepfather and he came and picked me up.”

Once he made it out of the building, Pettus heard more gunfire.

Substitute teacher David Briscoe was two or three doors down from the art room when he heard gunshots and the fire alarm. He had a class of 10 to 15 students in his room at the time.

“That’s when I pulled all my students, locked the door, barricaded it and then got down myself,” he said.

Briscoe used a few chairs and an extra table to block the door as some of his students cried out in fear.

“Honestly, the first thing that was running through my mind was, ‘not another one.’ It hurts saying that because I know people who were affected by the Parkland shooting.”

Briscoe had been substitute teaching at the high school since Thursday, he said.

“My students were screaming and I told them, ‘Everything will be okay,’” he said. “I asked them to cover their mouths with their hands so the screams wouldn’t be heard. I was just trying to protect them because I had no clue where exactly the shooter was at in the building.”

The group was freed after 45 minutes and “what felt like hours,” Briscoe said.

“School shootings need to stop,” he said.

Aidan Gomez, a 17-year-old junior, knew something was wrong when he realized students from the special needs class were not the first evacuated during what they thought was a fire drill. Usually, he said, that class is the first out.

“I held the door for them as they all got outside,” Gomez said.

Students and teachers were filing outside the building when Gomez said a teacher came running from the other side of the school, telling them to get across the highway and take shelter.

“Everyone was just walking out like a regular drill but the teacher started yelling, so we all started running across the street,” he said.

The high school sits north on Highway 6 in Santa Fe, near Galveston.

“I never thought this would happen to us. I’m in complete disbelief,” Gomez said.

Averi Presley, a 17-year-old junior at the school, was in her floral design class  when she heard the fire alarm go off. She and her fellow students were rushed downstairs and weren't sure what was happening, she said.

Teachers corralled them behind a car shop across the street, and Presley said she leaned over to her boyfriend and asked, "What if this is like what happened in Florida?"

She saw people crying and heard a girl was shot.

"I didn't believe it until I saw all of the police and fire trucks and life flights," she said. "It was a horrible thing to experience, and we still don't know who's dead."

Presley said she knew the suspected shooter, who authorities identified as Dimitrios Pagourtzis, in the eighth grade but they hadn't talked since then.

"He was nice, and I didn't know if he was bullied or not," she said. "He had pins on his coat with the Nazis and soviet union. I didn't think anything of it."

Staff writer Mary Huber contributed to this report.

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