Texas cardinal calls on community to ‘support,’ ‘offer healing’ for victims and families after school shooting

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Law enforcement responds to a mass shooting May 18 at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, near Houston. Police reported that at least eight people were dead and several others were injured. Assistant Principal Cris Richardson told reporters the shooter was “arrested and secured” but offered no other details about the person’s identity or motive. (CNS photo/HCSO, handout via Reuters)

HOUSTON (CNS) — In response to the May 18 school shooting at a Houston-area high school, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said the archdiocesan community would “unite to support and offer healing to those affected.”

“As a society, we must strive for a way to end such acts of senseless gun violence in our schools and communities,” he added in a May 18 statement.

The cardinal said he was “deeply saddened” and that his prayer and the prayers of Catholics in the archdiocese are with the “victims and families of those killed and injured in this horrific tragedy.”

The school shooting, occurring just three months after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, took place when a male shooter opened fire at a Santa Fe High School the morning of May 18 killing 10 people, most of them students. A suspect taken into custody was identified as 17-year old Dimitrios Pagourtzis and another person of interest also was detained and questioned.

Explosive devices also were found at the school and off campus.

The shooting was the deadliest in Texas since a gunman attacked a rural church late last year, killing more than two dozen people.

“We experienced an unthinkable tragedy at our high school this morning,” Superintendent Leigh Wall said in a message posted to Facebook.

“As soon as the alarms went off, everybody just started running outside,” 10th-grader Dakota Shrader told reporters, “and next thing you know everybody looks, and you hear boom, boom, boom, and I just ran as fast as I could to the nearest floor so I could hide, and I called my mom.”

Another student told CBS News he ran behind some trees, heard more shots, jumped a fence and ran to a car wash. He said he saw firefighters treat a girl who had a bandage around her knee and may have been shot.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, said in a May 18 tweet: “Please keep the victims of the Houston-area school shooting in your prayers. Pray also for their family members and friends who now begin a tragic grieving process. For those killed, grant eternal rest unto them, O Lord, and bestow grace and strength to all in their community.”