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Overview of Mass Shooting in The Santa Fe High School

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Mass shootings are a great concern for many Americans. A person committed to acting out a mass shooting adds to the many previous shootings that have occurred in this country. The general public has had to deal with the violence for decades. Mass shootings in public schools and elsewhere has legislators befuddled about what the government can do to stop the killings. Mass shooters are becoming more aggressive, and the active shooters have become more frequent. There are many debatable factors as to why an individual would become a mass shooter; mental illness, deviate behavior, victim of bullying in school, sociological and psychological disorders. To some extent, an individual cannot control these factors without the proper help. Although, there is no widespread definition what considers a mass shooter, Federal Bureau Investigation defines “Active Shooting as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area” (FBI). For instance, the Santa Fe high school shooting was one of the most egregious attacks that Americans have ever witness in today’ s age.

As a matter of fact, one speculation researchers consider is a factor is interpersonal interaction with others. Most juvenile shooters between the ages of 12 through 18 becomes withdrawn from interacting with other people, they seem to close themselves off from society. The juvenile feels like they have failed, and they cannot be sociably accepted. As a consequence, the juvenile starts to undergo delinquent and negative learned behaviors. “August Aichhorn (1936) drew upon the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and suggested that juvenile delinquents had difficulty conforming to parental and societal expectations because they had not developed a healthy superego “juvenile justice, (pg.37). “Fritz Redl and David Wineman (1951) also argued that juveniles delinquents had an inadequate superego so that they tended to follow the impulses and drives of the id” juvenile justice, (pg.38). In fact, “Criminologist have traditionally viewed the causes of delinquency and criminal behavior not as biogenetic or psychological in nature, but as a social problem” juvenile justice, (pg.46). This statement seems logical because in the case, of 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis who was charged with the Santa Fe High school shooting back in May 18, 2018. One of his classmate’s witness Dimitrios Pagourtzis displaying concerned behavior. “Bryton Sumbles, a former football player for the school, told ABC News that he reported Pagourtzis to teachers in the past because he thought it was odd that he would wear trench coats in 97-degree weather, and he thought it would be easy to hide a gun under the coat. Nothing seemed to come from the report, Sumbles said” (ABC News).

Furthermore, Dimitrios Pagourtzis had concerning behavior via social media. “On Facebook, Pagourtzis lists himself as an atheist under religious views and wrote “ I hate politics” under political views. On April 30, he posted a photo of a T-shirt that says, “Born to Kill” (ABC News). Most importantly, parents are the first foundation of teaching standard social behaviors. The influence a parent can have on a child and the affect can be positive or negative. They can witness or have a random experience in the social world. A child can experience these factors on a daily basis. When the child grows up this can ultimately have a significant outcome on a juvenile lifestyle. My parents use to say my grandparents was very strict and they could not do a lot of activities or communicated with certain people. Nowadays, juveniles can communicate via video games and do not have to leave the house.

In regard to Dimitrios case he spends a lot of time putting his feeling on Facebook. I believe his parents did not know or wasn’t supervising his social media. The South China Moring Post says Antonio Pagourtzis, father of Dimitrios stated “suspects son was under pressure, perhaps due to bullying” he went on to discuss how his son was not violent, smart, quiet and stayed to himself. However, Gov Greg Abbott said “ Dimitrios Pagourtzis wrote about planning the attack in journals, on his computer and in his cellphone that police obtained” (Boston news). Another theory is control theory, “delinquency is more likely among youth who lack social bonds and positive social interactions among parents and peers” juvenile justice, (pg. 51).

In the case of Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the Santa Fe High School mass shooter, no one from that tiny town in Texas expected anything like a mass shooting to have occurred at their school. Santa Fe High School has approximately 1500 students in classes from 9th to 12th grade. The school is located just north of Highway Tx 6. (School District Reference Map (2010 Census): Galveston County, Tx. U.S. Census Bureau). Prior to the school massacre, Santa Fe High School made local news because during sporting events the football team prayed together prior to the start of the football game. Someone challenged the practice and wanted the praying before games stopped. The team decided they wanted to continue praying before the competition began. So, the team initiated a lawsuit in the case of Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe. (Santa Fe Independent School Dist. V. Doe, 530 U. S. 290). It is a sure bet that the people from this community never thought such a thing could happen at their community high school. The students were unaware that such a tragedy was imminent and probably for good reason.

Although, Dimitrios Pagourtzis was displaying some characteristics of delinquency behavior when he posted “born to kill” on his Facebook page, one can argue that this alone was not an indicator that he would act out in such a dangerous manner. We have become such a desensitized society with the advent of social media. What we see on various social sites today, a few decades ago, programmers would never have showed on television. In fact, I found a vender selling a T-Shirt in my email. The T-shirt logo was geared toward those who love the military. It said, “Born to train, trained to kill”. In an Amazon search, I found many shirts with “Born to kill” on them. In fact, all of these were referencing to the movie. The mystery of why he did it will probably would only be found after an examination of his life.

In the meantime, it is only speculation. The good thing is, he is still alive; and a trial is set to start in 2020. In the meantime, speculation will continue. One of the victim’s mother in the shooting, said that Dimitrios made advances toward her daughter prior to the shooting. However, she refused to have anything to do with him. The student indicated that he had previously dated her best friend, (US Politics).

CNN reported that “Pagourtzis used a shot gun and a .38 revolver to shoot and kill 8 students and 2 teachers. He injured 13 others. The Galveston County Sheriff’s office reported that Pagourtzis said he targeted certain victims and did not want to harm students he did not have a grudge with,” (CNN). Even though Pagourtzis spoke on targeting certain students, he contradicts that assertion by what did in his preparation before the shooting occurred.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office reported “that they found a modified pressure cooker simulating a bomb, and a Molotov cocktail found near the school,” (HCSO). Both of these items are believed to have been put in those locations by Dimitrios Pagourtzis. Perhaps Dimitrios lacked interpersonal skills. Maybe he did not feel comfortable interacting with others. It is possible that he was experiencing narcissistic behavior. Juvenile delinquency is a recipe of so many social, emotional, and learned behaviors, that if they are not positive in nature they can be lessons in criminality. Do his parents have vicarious responsibility for what he did?

In May 2018, ABC 13 News reported that many of the victim’s parents are filing civil lawsuits against Dimitrios Pagourtzis parents. The parents of Aaron McLeod and Chris Stone are only two of many who believe that Dimitrios’ parents are vicariously liable for not stopping their son from committing the mass shooting at Santa Fe. It is interesting that for many parents, allowing their high school kid to pretty much supervise themselves is normal. However, what some may fail to understand is that they are ultimately responsible for their children until the age of 18 years old. (Texas Family Code section 41.001.)

Many people are affected emotionally when something like this occurs in our society. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted, “Not ashamed to admit I’ve shed tears of sadness, pain and anger.” His angst and disappointment can be heard all the way to the White House. Donald Trump said that, “This has been going on too long in our country. Too many years. Too many decades now”. (

Moreover, in my own opinion, the failure of our elected officials to work together in getting meaningful legislation passed to address gun violence only exacerbates the problem in our society. In schools, we need to educate, intervene, and prevent our campuses from being unsafe for our children. We cannot simplify the solution by suggesting that gun carrying teachers in the classroom is enough to address the threat. Some may not get enough training and the resulting consequence could place our children at a higher risk of being accidentally shot by a teacher. The impact of gun violence has impacted our entire nation. Individuals who should not have but do manage to get access to firearms only increase the chances of someone becoming a victim of gun violence.

In fact, “58 percent of Americans adults or someone they care for have experienced gun violence in their lifetime,” (every town research). So far, the statistical data on gun violence appears to show “mass shootings 337, teens killed or injured between ages of 12-17 2,869 statewide,” (gun violence archive, (2018). Article 9 of the constitution does indicate that each of us have a right to live and not be killed by another individual. We need better safety measures to prevent gun violence, especially in schools throughout our nation.

Texas Governor Greg Abbot has taken measures to create more safety in schools. He has signed several bills brought to his desk by the Texas Legislature. “The bills would, among other things, strengthen mental health initiatives available to children, abolish the cap on how many school marshals can carry guns on public school campuses and allot money to school districts that can go toward “hardening” their campuses,” The Texas Tribune,(June 6, 2019).

There are so many ways each of us can have a positive impact in doing something to help deal with gun violence. An age-old African proverb, one that many mothers from my neighborhood growing up would say, “It takes a village to raise a child”. I believe that if parents engaged their children more, if accountability was a mandate, if children were encouraged to play outside more and less on the computer playing games that seem to dehumanize the impact of violence against each other, we would be taking a giant step in the right direction against not only gun violence, but all acts of violence. America can take a page from the industrial age of the past.

American television once was a place where most families sat together to watch old westerns, wholesome half-hour sitcoms, Animal Kingdom and shows like the Wide World of Sports. Little girls were encouraged to get outside and play hopscotch and little boys played marbles. Homework was a requirement before you were allowed to go outside, and every child had chores to do daily or even weekly. Going to church was a requirement on Sundays, and maybe even Wednesdays. Vacation bible school was something kids looked forward to and parents encouraged each other to teach Sunday school. Most of all, prayer in schools were the norm and any suggestion otherwise were met with disbelief.

Our society has been under attack with the advent of the information age. The information age has arguably done as much to damage the fabric of America as it has helped America. We now live in a society of desensitization. There are video games that consist of extreme violence and characters in them that look very human. So-called Gangsta Rap music is a genre of music that arguably ignites hatred in such a way that it becomes a marketable asset and is sold. It has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. Sitcoms have been replaced by reality shows. Many argue that these shows are simply a form of entertainment and is not reality. Even in our children cartoon shows, there has been chaotic behavior within the cartoon characters.

However, many also believe that the confrontational nature of each characters is purposely orchestrated to insight friction, violent outburst, vulgarity, semblance of hatred and elitism to demean each other. These episodic characterizations then become a magnet to viewers. The viewer is now an audience to advertisers, who sale products during commercials; because producers know that the chaos captivates audiences. It seems the more chaotic, the better the show’s ratings are.

The better the rating are, the more similar shows are created and before you know it, as is the case, shows that were geared to uniting family values, are being replaced by shows that ultimately pit people against each other. It seems harmless standing alone, however, when one considers all the different type of elements in our society that encourage divisiveness, it can be scary. Of course, there are sources that have provided insight into the factors of a mass shooter behaviors. As for Concerned the Santa Fe mass shooter and his sociology and physiological characteristics. Also, the outcome this has on our juvenile up brining.

Nevertheless, an individual may be capable to change their outcome, as an adult. In other words, the foretelling is that if a child is exposed to bad parenting, and harmful behaviors without intervention this could cause deviant behaviors. The juvenile could begin to conduct criminal activities intentional or unintentional. Furthermore, our leaders are aware we need to do ,more then pray this will take a long process. For now, law makers are taking safety school measures. Gov. Abbott “laid out 43-page school safety plan that hoped would do just that, Abbott outlined suggestion like mental health screening programs at schools, on-campus counseling and gun storage laws,” Texas Tribune, (2019).

In additional, there will be millions of dollars spend going to the safety of our school campuses. The millions will be spent on things such as, training for our teachers, additional officers, mental health programs, training for substitute teachers, and mental detectors. Flo Rice a substitute teacher who echo “we’re not going to get everything done overnight”, this will be a long process, but the more things we get passed for me personally the better the healing process is going to be. I just hope I can see some changes in the future that will protect other kids,” (Texas Tribune).

In a general sense, where are many ways we can prevent another shooting similar to Santa Fe’s, one is to changed things on a local standard, such as additional trained Police and Security Officers, Staff emergency drills, that students are not aware of, anonymous school phone line to report concerned behaviors from student or staff. Also, for Law Enforcement to do diligence on reports of neglect or abuse. Nevertheless, our goal is to prevent another mass shooting.    

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Overview Of Mass Shooting In The Santa Fe High School. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from
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