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Texas school attack suspect 'avoided shooting students he liked so he could tell his story'

Dimitrios Pagourtzis was taken into custody and identified as the suspect in the deadly school shooting. Credit: AP

The Texas high school shooting suspect has told police he avoided shooting students he liked “so he could have his story told”, court documents show.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis has been charged with murder after an attack at Santa Fe High School left eight students and two members of staff dead, as well as a further 10 people injured - two of who are in critical conditions.

The wounded included a school police officer who was the first to confront the suspect and got shot in the arm.

The 17-year-old has admitted to carrying out the shooting, authorities said in an affidavit which offered no motive for the attack.

The news came as the family of Pagourtzis said they were "shocked and confused" by the shooting, adding that the person who carried out the shooting seemed "incompatible with the boy we love" who they knew as "smart, quiet and sweet boy."

Candles are lit at a vigil held in the wake of the shooting. Credit: AP

A top Texas official said that the suspect also exchanged “a lot of firepower” with authorities before surrendering .

Pagourtzis, who appeared to have no prior arrests or confrontations with law enforcement, appeared in court on Friday - the day of the shooting - by video link from the Galveston county jail. He has been denied bail.

In addition to a shotgun and a handgun, Pagourtzis had several kinds of homemade explosive devices but they were not capable of detonating, said Mark Henry, the Galveston County judge who is the county’s chief administrator.

Investigators found a group of carbon dioxide cannisters taped together and a pressure cooker with an alarm clock and nails inside. However, the cannisters had no detonation device and the pressure cooker had no explosive material, Mr Henry said.

The names of the 10 people who died in the attack were released by the Galveston County medical examiner’s office, with teachers Glenda Perkins and Cynthia Tisdale among the victims.

Eight students were also killed in the incident – Kimberly Vaughan; Shana Fisher; Angelique Ramirez; Christian Riley Garcia; Jared Black; Sabika Sheikh; Christopher Jake Stone; and Aaron Kyle McLeod.

Santa Fe High School baseball players hold a minute's silence before a game on Saturday. Credit: AP

The family of Pagourtzis issued a statement issued through lawyers in which they said they offered their "heartfelt prayers and condolences" to the victims of the attack.

“We are saddened and dismayed by yesterday’s events at Santa Fe High School," the statement read.

"We extend our most heartfelt prayers and condolences to all of the victims.

"We also wish to thank all the first responders from all over Texas that assisted in rendering aid and support.

“We are as shocked and confused as anyone else by these events that occurred.

"We are gratified by the public comments made by other Santa Fe High School students that show Dimitri as we know him: a smart, quiet, sweet boy.

"While we remain mostly in the dark about the specifics of yesterday’s tragedy, what we have learned from media reports seems incompatible with the boy we love.

“We share the public’s hunger for answers as to why this happened, and will await the outcome of the investigation before speaking about these events.

"We have been and will continue to co-operate with the authorities conducting the investigation, and ask for the public’s patience while it moves forward.

“We ask the public to please extend privacy, both to the victims and to our own family, as all of us try process these events, and begin the healing process."

Students are checked before entering Santa Fe High School Credit: PA

The shooting unfolded in Santa Fe, a city of about 13,000 people roughly 30 miles south-east of Houston.

It was the nation’s deadliest such attack since the Florida massacre at Marjory Stoneman Doughlas High School that killed 17 on Valentine's Day and energised the teen-led gun-control movement.

Friday's shooting was also the deadliest assault in Texas since a man with a semi-automatic rifle attacked a rural church late last year, killing more than two dozen people.

Meanwhile, students were being let back inside Santa Fe High School to gather belongings they abandoned when the gunfire began.

What we have learned seems incompatible with the boy we love.

– Pagourtzis family

Pagourtzis played on the junior varsity football team and was a member of a dance squad with a local Greek Orthodox church. Acquaintances described him as quiet and unassuming as well as being an avid video game player who routinely wore a black trench coat and black boots to class.