School was just getting underway at Santa Fe High in Texas on Friday morning when a shooter opened fire on the campus, leaving at least eight people dead as students scrambled amid the confusion, panic and sound of bullets.
Someone began firing about 7:45 a.m. inside the school, the New York Times reports, citing a county commissioner.
Multiple media outlets report the shooting took place at or around an art classroom. Santa Fe High is located in Galveston County about 35 miles outside Houston.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told reporters later Friday morning that the shooting was reported just before 8 a.m. and that between eight and 10 people had been killed, including students and school staff.
One suspect was taken into custody and a second “possible person of interest” was detained for questioning, Gonzalez said. Both are males “believed to be students” at Santa Fe High.
A school police officer was also injured, Gonzalez said. Further information about other possible injuries was not released.
Speaking to the media, Gonzalez stressed that what he knew about the shooting was preliminary and subject to change.
Initial student accounts, though incomplete and occasionally confusing, described how their morning turned to chaos.
“You could smell the gunpowder that came from the gun,” 14-year-old Liberty Wheeler, a junior, told the Houston Chronicle. She said she heard five gunshots: “We were all scared because it was near us.”
She and other students took shelter for 45 minutes in a theater department storage room, she said, and then made contact with responding SWAT officers.
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“I thought the kids were playing,” said one local resident who lives near the school, according to the Times. “But then I heard ambulances and fire trucks. It didn’t sound right, so I went out front.”
The shooting appears to have begun around the same time as a fire alarm sent kids streaming from their classrooms, some students said.
Leila Butler and MaKenna Evans — speaking to local TV station KTRK and CNN, respectively — described hearing fire alarms at school around the time of the shooting. Outside, Evans said, the principal told students to run.
“It was just a normal-like class day,” Angelica Martinez, 14, told CNN. “We all were doing our work in first period. And then all of a sudden like it’s a fire drill.”
“We followed the fire drill procedures and then we went outside,” she said. “Like we were all standing there, but not even five minutes later, we all start hearing gunshots.”
“As soon as the alarms went off, everybody just started running outside,” sophomore Dakota Shrader told news station KHOU, “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.”