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story.lead_photo.caption Santa Fe High School freshman, Jai Gillard writes messages on each of the 10 crosses in front the school Monday, May 21, 2018, in Santa Fe. Gillard, was in the art class Friday morning, knew all of the victims of the shooting. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has called for a moment of silence at 10 a.m. and came to the school to participate. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP)

SANTA FE, Texas — A 17-year-old student accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Texas high school should be seen as a "victim" because he may have recently been bullied, causing him to lash out, his father said.

In a phone interview over the weekend with Greece's Antenna TV, Antonios Pagourtzis said he wished he could have stopped the killing Friday at Santa Fe High School. His voice cracked as he described how he told police to let him inside the school so his son, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, could kill him instead. He said he suspects his son was under pressure, perhaps due to bullying.

"Something must have happened now, this last week," he told the station. "Somebody probably came and hurt him, and since he was a solid boy, I don't know what could have happened. I can't say what happened. All I can say is what I suspect as a father."

The suspect's attorney, Nicholas Poehl, has said he is investigating whether his client endured any "teacher-on-student" bullying after reading reports of the teen being mistreated by football coaches. The school district issued a statement saying it investigated the accusations and "confirmed that these reports were untrue."

The elder Pagourtzis said his son took a legally owned shotgun and handgun from his closet before leaving for school that day. The teen didn't own firearms of his own, he said.

"My son, to me, is not a criminal, he's a victim," he said. "The kid didn't own guns. I owned guns."

Dimitrios Pagourtzis is being held in the Galveston County jail on capital murder charges. Authorities say eight students and two teachers were killed in the attack, and 13 others wounded.

Antonios Pagourtzis said his son never displayed any signs that he would be capable of such violence, explaining that he didn't fight with others, didn't drink alcohol and seemed to enjoy healthy pursuits such as working out.

"He pulled the trigger but he is not this person," he said. "It is like we see in the movies when someone gets into his body and does things that are not done. It's not possible in one day for the child to have changed so much."

He said that after the teen had been taken into custody, he and his wife were allowed to visit him for 15 to 20 minutes.

"I saw the child. I didn't see a child who is a murderer. A pure child, a child who was ashamed to look me in the face," his father said. "He was thinking of his sisters, how his sisters will be able to get about. He said he loves me. He told his mother he loves her, and he will try to be strong to help us cope."

He said his son told him he had acted on his own and had spared "the kids who were the good kids so they can tell his story."

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Photos by the Associated Press

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  • DoubleBlind
    May 22, 2018 at 9:38 a.m.

    I parents and think they should face charges in cases like this. This guy’s dad is trying to rationalize, if not justify, what his son did by saying he was bullied. He knew the kid had issues but still gave him access to guns. He was even building bombs in his parents’ house. How does a parent miss that? This guy doesn’t know he’s lucky his @sshole kid didn’t blow him away as well, the way Adam Lanza did to his mom.

  • PenLR
    May 22, 2018 at 10:24 a.m.

    Who hasn't been bullied in school? Give me a break. If everyone murdered classmates over bullying, this would be a daily occurrence. This is a mental health issue and it needs to be addressed.

  • DoubleBlind
    May 22, 2018 at 10:44 a.m.

    There were threats reported in at least 7 Houston-area school districts today. Seemingly copy cat incidents following last week’s shootings. I don’t know if this is mental illness or kids who want to become ‘famous’ at any cost. And schools can’t do much about it. Just look at the incident in Vilonia where a kid who threatened other kids with his father’s gun was ordered to be allowed back to school by a federal judge. Far be it that he be excluded even if it places others at risk. I place a great deal of blame on parents, like those of the kid in Vilonia and the kid in Santa Fe. They just want them out of the house and for someone else to deal with the issues. They’re too darned ‘busy’ to do it themselves.

  • hah406
    May 22, 2018 at 10:53 a.m.

    When I was in school, being bullied or picked on was cause for a fist fight, not mass murder. How did we get to this place where a culture of gun violence in all settings is acceptable? PenLR, unfortunately it has already become a weekly occurrence. There has been at least one school shooting per week every week this year thus far.

  • DoubleBlind
    May 22, 2018 at 11:04 a.m.

    Any parent who isn’t closely monitoring their kids’ online activity and comings and goings should be held responsible when their kids go BSC. We don’t live in a world where kids go to school, come home and do homework and then go out to ‘play.’ Naive parents = irresponsible parents. If your kid wears a trench coat to school every day, check what’s under it; it’s weird. Check what’s in their backpacks. Lock up your guns. If you don’t know how to check their browsing history (it’s easy) LEARN how to do it. If they drive, install a gps you can check remotely so you know where they’ve been. It may be ‘spying,’ but it beats having them KILL someone.

  • DoubleBlind
    May 22, 2018 at 12:45 p.m.

    There’s an excellent article in today’s Houston Chronicle that every gun nut who thinks the answer is more police and more guns in schools should read. It goes into detail about how many things went wrong even though TX has a program to deal with school shootings which the FBI considers a national model and everyone followed the plan. They’re actually having to perform autopsies on the dead kids to determine if some of them were killed by POLICE bullets. The answer is NOT more guns.

  • ebf
    May 22, 2018 at 1:23 p.m.

    Something is missing here. How does a father not know any of what his son is doing? This seems to be too extreme to be missed. I feel so sad for those that were shot. There is not an excuse for this - we must get a handle on school shootings now.

  • GeneralMac
    May 22, 2018 at 1:27 p.m.

    DoubleBlind posted at 11:04 that the parents should have considered it weird that their son wore a trench coat to school every day.

    I posted those same comments the day of the shooting and RBear stated I was behind times and wearing a trench coat is just a way of expressing yourself.

    Yes, Double Blind, wearing a trenchcoat in the heat and humidity of the Houston area should have been a sign of something wrong.

    When I went to school we had a strict disciplinarian of a principal.
    If you wore a coat to school and insisted leaving it on he would have said........" you're in a building now. Take that coat off or I'll rip it off you "

    "Expressing themselves".............

    That is where the liberal....." if it feels good, do it" ...has gotten us.

  • GeneralMac
    May 22, 2018 at 1:31 p.m.

    If "more guns" is not the answer, perhaps the police should show up unarmed at the next school shooting.

    Dianne Feinstein says once a shooter notices no one else is armed they will lay down their arms.

    Sure, gullible liberals, sure ..........

  • GeneralMac
    May 22, 2018 at 1:43 p.m.

    White school shooter, Muslim terrorist, Black street thug.........

    The parents of all 3 of those types mentioned always are in denial.
    Unless they were legally blind, they should have noticed the wheels were coming off their kid.