Paige Curry tried to keep calm Friday morning as a gunman tore through her Santa Fe High School, eventually killing 10 people and injuring another 10. The 17-year-old watched as a girl nearby panicked. Curry, herself terrified, considered running out of the building, but her teacher told her to instead stay indoors and hide. So that’s what Curry did.
Moments later, the massacre ended. The suspected shooter was taken into custody. Curry had survived.
A television reporter, Foti Kallergis of ABC-13, then asked the student for an interview. Was there a part of her that thought this wasn’t real – that this couldn’t happen at her school?
Her answer would shake many across the country.
“No,” she said, without looking directly at Kallergis. “There wasn’t.”
“It’s been happening everywhere,” she said with a shrug. “I’ve always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too.”
The Southeast Texas shooting was the 16th so far this year at a school during school hours, according to a Washington Post analysis. The Post’s analysis found that since 1999, shootings during school hours have killed at least 139 children, educators and other people; another 277 have also been injured.
And the rampage came just three months after a gunman in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 students and staff members at a high school. What happened in Santa Fe was just the latest in a seemingly endless string of shootings at schools, churches, and movie theaters – places where American people’s routines have been upturned with sudden gunfire and tragedy.
Curry’s words, delivered emotionally yet assertively, are heartbreaking to many who can’t imagine that the nation’s children view themselves as potential targets.
“Paige Curry, I am so sorry you had to go through this. I am so sorry you’ve felt that way. I am so sorry you were right,” one person wrote on Twitter.
Kyle Kashuv, a survivor of the Parkland shooting who has spoken up for gun owners’ rights, wrote on Twitter Friday that Curry’s comments were the result of gun-control rhetoric encouraged by the media.
“Yes, the media and their lies are definitely failing our children,” Kashuv wrote.
Benjamin Wallace-Wells of the New Yorker wrote that Curry’s reaction shows students have evolved along with the threat of shootings.
It used to be that students who survived these horrors were made out to be shocked victims. That began to change after Parkland, where student outrage led to a reinvigoration of the gun-control movement. Curry is further evidence of the change. She is expectant, and aware. The massacre was not surreal, for her. It was not even a surprise.
Or, as The Post’s Monica Hesse tweeted that Curry’s comments exemplify “how school shootings have become as American as prom.”
By Friday afternoon, people on social media were already accusing Curry of being a “crisis actor,” playing the part of a grieving student and reading from a script in the local television report. David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, has for months been inundated with similar false allegations from online conspiracy theorists looking to attack his credibility.
The suspected shooter has been identified as Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17. He has been charged with capital murder and aggravated assault of a peace officer and booked in the Galveston County jail without bond, authorities said.
After the shooting, police and federal authorities could be seen blocking off a home linked to Pagourtzis’ mother and were going in and out of the home for hours.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, R, said that the shooter, who was being held by the Santa Fe police, had journals documenting his thoughts on both his computer and his cellphone. The shooter said “not only did he want to commit the shooting, but he wanted to commit suicide after,” Abbott said.