Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hailed as heroes two school resource officers who confronted the suspect in Friday’s mass shooting at Santa Fe High School — including an officer now in critical condition after being shot.
Ten people were injured and 10 were killed in the shooting. But Abbott said the toll could have been much higher had two officers not confronted the suspect “early on in the process.”
“Their actions probably ensured that more lives were not lost,” Abbott said at a Friday press conference.
Abbott didn’t identify the officer by name, but officials at the University of Texas Medical Branch hospital in Galveston tell PEOPLE that Santa Fe Independent School District Officer John Barnes, 49, is in critical condition after being shot in the arm. The other school resource officer who confronted the shooter has not been identified by name.
KHOU reports that a surgeon with the UTMB said Barnes “was bleeding out and his blood pressure was very low, so the immediate issue was to resuscitate him and give him enough blood product to get his blood pressure up and take him straight to the OR.”
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said on Twitter that Barnes is a retired Houston police officer, who was with the department from 1995 until retiring in 2018. “John is known for his tireless work in Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force,” Acevedo wrote.
“John is hanging in there & the family is very hopeful,” Acevedo wrote.
According to multiple local media reports, nine students and one teacher were killed in the attack, which began at about 7:45 a.m. at or around an art classroom.
The suspect in the shooting has been identified as 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, according to a news release from the Galveston County Sheriff. He is being held in the Galveston County Jail with no bond on capital murder charges.
Abbott said the suspect allegedly used a shotgun and a .38 revolver, which were owned legally by his father. It is unclear how the suspect obtained the guns.
According to Abbott, authorities learned from the suspect’s recovered journals, cell phone and computers that he allegedly wanted to commit suicide after the shooting. But he admitted to authorities “he didn’t have the courage [to kill himself],” Abbott alleged.
Abbott said that the suspect was not on the radar of law enforcement before the attack, saying “there simply were not the same types of warning signs” as there have been with other alleged mass shooters.
But he said the suspect posted a photo to his Facebook page of a T-shirt that said “Born to kill.”
“That would be … the foremost warning sign,” said Abbott.
Santa Fe High is located in Galveston County about 35 miles outside Houston.
Barnes’ family has launched a GoFundMe page to help pay for medical expenses.