On a Spring Texan Morning, a Sound Heard Too Often at Schools Across America: Bang. Bang. Bang.

“I hear boom. Three seconds later — boom. A couple seconds later, another bang,” he said. “My ears are ringing and I have no idea what’s going on. His first shots were definitely in our room.”

Mr. Shubert, a 16-year-old pitcher on the baseball team, dived under a table, and flipped it onto its side for cover. He said he saw Mr. Pagourtzis fire at one male student lying on the floor, but he seemed to miss the student on purpose.

“He shoots a couple feet to his left, and then he shoots near him,” Mr. Shubert said.

Mr. Shubert eventually ran out of the room and hopped a wall behind the school. There, a friend told him what he had not realized until then: He had been shot. He was bleeding from the back of his head.

“The doctors told me if it would have been any up, any down, any left or right, that I could be paralyzed for the rest of my life or killed,” he said on Friday night, a bandage poking from underneath his curly red hair.

In a nearby agriculture class, Layton Kelly and his friends sprang to action as if they had been training for that awful moment. They heaped desks in front of the door, stacking them as high as they could. They shut off the lights and huddled in the blackness, some praying, some crying, most of them trying fruitlessly to get a cell signal to reach their parents, as shot after shot echoed from just outside the door.

Mr. Kelly said he counted at least 15.

Dalton Stevens, 16, another pitcher on the varsity baseball team, stayed huddled in a small storage space inside the dance classroom, where he had been taking a stretching class for athletes. Nine male students and their teacher hunkered down in a tiny closet, surrounded by the Native American-themed, green-and-gold costumes for the school’s Tribal Belles dance team.

“The fire alarm starts to go off because someone pulled the fire alarm,” he said. “We keep on hearing shots. I’m shaking. I’m freaking out. I don’t know what to do. Everyone is frantic. I prayed a couple times.”

The dance teacher in the room with them, Ashley Hardage, told the students to stay calm, to stay quiet.

So he took out his cellphone and texted his mother. At 7:46 a.m., from inside the closet, Mr. Stevens wrote: “There’s someone shooting in the school.”

At 7:49 a.m., he wrote a second one: “I love you.”

At one point, a man who Mr. Stevens believed was the wounded school resource officer, John Barnes, entered the dance classroom after being shot in a confrontation with the gunman. Mr. Stevens desperately wanted to help the officer, but they did not open the closet door.

“I know I couldn’t just go out there, because I know the shooter’s in the art hallway,” he said.

“It sounded like he was dying,” Mr. Stevens said. “I hear him in the room and I hear him talking on the radio, and I hear his restricted breathing, in agonizing pain. We hear other police officers come in, thank God. They exchange gunfire in the hallway.”

The gunman engaged the police in a 15-minute firefight that ended when he surrendered, abandoning what he said had been a plan to kill himself, said Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, the top local elected official.

After several minutes of silence, Mr. Stevens heard SWAT officers knock on the door and tell them the assailant was in custody, but the students still stayed quiet in the closet and did not open the door. They believed that the gunman could have been tricking them into opening the door.

“We didn’t say a word,” he said. “They had knocked on the door and said it was the police, but with our protocol, we’re taught not to say anything until someone comes and unlocks the door and opens it.”

By 8:06 a.m., he was out of the closet and his parents were rushing to the school. His mother texted him back: “On my way. I love u.”

The students in the closet threaded their way out through hallways covered in blood.

“I’ve never been so scared in my life,” Mr. Stevens said.

Grief washed over Santa Fe as parents and friends began to learn the names of the eight students and two teachers whose lives were cut short.

Cynthia Tisdale, a teacher, would not get to live out her wish of retiring to spend more time with her grandchildren. Christopher Stone, 17, would never again delight his friends with his dance moves and charm. Sabika Sheikh, 17, a foreign exchange student, would never get to reunite with her parents in Pakistan. Shana Fisher, who just turned 16, would never come home to her beloved dog, Kallie. And on and on.

The gunman’s family also released a statement on Saturday, saying it was “as shocked and confused as anyone” and that the news media’s descriptions of him and his actions seemed “incompatible with the boy we love.” It said it was cooperating with the investigation.


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