School Climate & Safety

Santa Fe High: The Latest School Thrust Onto the List of Mass Shootings

By Corey Mitchell & Denisa R. Superville — May 18, 2018 4 min read
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Less than a month ago, some students at Santa Fe High School participated in a nationwide school walkout to raise awareness about gun violence.

Today, students, staff, and residents in the southeastern Texas community are reeling from a shooting at their own high school that left at least 10 people dead and 13 others injured.

The suspected shooter, a 17-year-old male student, is in police custody.

Before Friday’s shooting, the 1,460-student school was perhaps best known as having been at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case on whether students can lead prayers over the public-address system at football games.

Now it has joined the long list of schools where shooters have gunned down students or staff this year: the shooting in Santa Fe marks the 12th school shooting in 2018 with injuries or deaths, according to Education Week’s school shooting database.

Among the people injured in Friday’s shooting was John Barnes, one of two police officers stationed at Santa Fe High. Barnes is a part of a seven-member police department dedicated to protecting the Santa Fe Independent School District’s four schools and 4,700 students. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Friday that Santa Fe High was one of 186 schools in the state of Texas that had received recognition for safety measures.

Santa Fe High had a scare back in February—soon after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.—when school leaders placed the building on lockdown after reports of “popping sounds thought to be gun shots heard outside the school and in the area,” the Houston Chronicle reported.

On Friday, local authorities said explosive devices were found at the school and in the surrounding area.

‘More Than Thoughts and Prayers’

Both U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and President Donald Trump pledged support and offered condolences:

On Feb. 14, a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire at the school killing 17 people. The Santa Fe High shooting is the deadliest since that Valentine Day’s massacre.

The mass shooting in Parkland has sparked an outpouring of activism against gun violence and reinvigorated the national debate over gun rights and school safety.

Student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas and others, including former education secretary Arne Duncan, rebuked the call for thoughts and prayers on Friday, demanding action from government.

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.