Students Slain in Texas School Shooting Honored at Church Graduation Service

A graduating senior from Santa Fe High School mourned the shooting victims during a service at the Arcadia First Baptist Church in Santa Fe, Texas, on Sunday. PHOTO: JONATHAN BACHMAN/REUTERS
A graduating senior from Santa Fe High School mourned the shooting victims during a service at the Arcadia First Baptist Church in Santa Fe, Texas, on Sunday. PHOTO: JONATHAN BACHMAN/REUTERS

Members of Arcadia First Baptist Church in Santa Fe, just down the road from the site of Friday’s deadly high-school shooting, shook hands and received hugs and words of comfort from Gov. Greg Abbott before the start of Sunday services.

“I’m here to comfort my fellow Texans,” Mr. Abbott said.

The service focused on healing from Friday’s shooting that killed 10 and injured 13 more at Santa Fe High School. Speakers recognized the victims, the first responders, and even the family of Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the 17-year-old charged in the shooting.

Ted Elmore, with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, told the crowd that returning to normalcy would be difficult.

“One of the things you can expect is the hurt goes deep and it stays around a long time,” he said, noting that it is a lesson he says he learned while ministering to people in Sutherland Springs, where a gunman opened fire in a church last year killing 26.

The Santa Fe shooting is the deadliest school shooting since a gunman killed 17 people in February in Parkland, Fla., and is the country’s ninth fatal shooting incident of 2018 on school grounds, including college campuses and excluding suicides, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that advocates stricter gun laws.

It has sparked a call for a new approach to gun laws in the state. Mr. Abbott said Friday he was interested in speeding background checks; implementing strategies to keep guns away from people who pose an immediate danger; making schools more secure; and increasing resources to address mental-health issues.

But in Santa Fe on Sunday, the debate was still raw. Monica Bracknell, 18 years old, told Mr. Abbott the shooting was “not a gun-law issue.”

“It’s not a political issue, it’s not a gun-law issue,” said Ms. Bracknell, who added that she knew one of the teachers killed. “It’s a, this-kid-was-able-to-get-into-the-school-very-easily, issue.”

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SOURCE: Erin Ailworth
The Wall Street Journal