New Details Emerge from 2018 Santa Fe School Shooting: 'I Finally Know Exactly How My Daughter Died,' Says Mom
"Your grief is always there," says Hart, who holds on tight to memories of her happy-go-lucky daughter who delighted in all things Harry Potter, going to the library, and snuggling with her beloved cats, Shannon and Dum-Dum.
Hart lost her daughter, Kimberly, on May 18, 2018, when 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis allegedly went on a terrifying shooting rampage, killing 10 students and teachers and wounding 13 others at Santa Fe High School, about 30 miles southeast of Houston.
"It's like it just kind of happened and then went away," says Hart. "Three years have gone by and it really feels like we've been forgotten."
Filmmaker Charlie Minn is hoping to change that with his new documentary, The Kids Of Santa Fe: The Largest Unknown Mass Shooting, which debuts Thursday at Premiere Cinemas in Pearland and Tomball, Texas, to honor the 10 students and teachers who were killed and the 13 who were wounded. The film is scheduled to run for at least a week at each location.
"So much about the Santa Fe shooting is still so unknown," says Minn, who has directed and produced 34 documentaries, including Parkland: Inside Building 12, about the Feb. 14, 2018, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
"The Parkland tragedy happened three months before Santa Fe, and one got a boatload of attention and the other one got shut out," says Minn, a former producer on the TV show America's Most Wanted.
Though Santa Fe is one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history, "it got swept under the rug," says Minn, whose film 915: Hunting Hispanics, about the 2019 El Paso Walmart mass shooting, hit theaters in early August and debuted on streaming services on Tuesday. "Children got slaughtered, and it's almost like nothing's being done about it. That should enrage all of us."
Even more agonizing for Santa Fe victims' families and survivors who want justice is that the criminal case remains at a standstill. After initially being charged with capital murder, Pagourtzis was deemed incompetent to stand trial in 2019 and committed to a Texas Department of State Health Services facility, where he remains. He hasn't entered a plea.
"We can't move forward with our case until he's mentally fit to stand trial, so it's very frustrating," says Hart.
'I Finally Know Exactly How My Daughter Died'
With no trial date in sight, officials haven't released much information about the shooting, which Minn says his film provides in spades.
"The documentary's greatest strength is information," he says.
For the first time ever, viewers will see "a minute-by-minute play-by-play of exactly what happened inside those two art rooms," he says.
The film details what happened that morning when shots rang out during first period, after the shooter allegedly yelled, "Surprise!'; how victims and survivors feel about the case's lack of transparency; and how long it took authorities to apprehend the suspect, who turned himself in after 30 minutes.
Some of the most revealing information came from the medical examiner, who told him where each person was shot, how many times, and where their bodies were found.
"That's something that nobody has heard before," he says. "What we learned is that where you were when the killer walked into the art rooms was everything."
Hart now knows that to be true.
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After the shooting, Hart spoke to the medical examiner, who told her that Kimberly was one of the first victims shot.
"The medical examiner told me Kimberly was shot four times in the chest and stomach," she says. "It was instantaneous and the medical examiner said she didn't suffer."
After seeing the film, she learned for the first time that Kimberly never saw the shots coming.
"I never pictured the shots coming from behind," she tells PEOPLE. "I always thought she was facing him directly. Now I know what really went down. It made me feel a little bit better. I'm grateful she didn't suffer."
The film chronicles other little-known facts, including how one heroic student managed to get one of the back doors to open, "which saved 15 to 20 lives," says Minn.
"But in the other room, the back door did not open and that cost six lives," he says.
"That's not really known. That's why the word 'unknown' is in the title. Because most people don't know these things unless you are really following the case closely."
Minn hopes the documentary will bring about change.
"If I can raise enough awareness to create more activism and more solutions — and if even one life was saved because of these documentaries — then it was all worth it."
For more information about the documentary, please visit KidsofSantaFe.com.