Pakistan Buries Teen Killed In Texas School Shooting

Relatives and residents carry the coffin of slain Pakistani exchange student Sabika Sheikh, who was killed during a school shooting

Relatives and residents carry the coffin of slain Pakistani exchange student Sabika Sheikh, who was killed during a school shooting in Texas, following her body’s arrival from the United States, in Karachi on May 23, 2018.  IMRAN ALI / AFP

 

Hundreds mourned a Pakistani exchange student killed in a mass shooting at a Texas high school last week during her burial in Karachi Wednesday.

Sabika Sheikh was among the 10 people gunned down at a high school in Santa Fe last Friday when a heavily armed student opened fire on classmates.

Relatives sobbed and hugged as Sheikh’s remains arrived at her family home in a casket draped with a Pakistani flag.

The body was then taken to a public meeting ground where hundreds gathered to say prayers and pay their respects before the burial at a nearby cemetery.

“My daughter is a martyr and martyrs don’t die,” Sheikh’s father Abdul Aziz said after the prayers.

Officials participating in the ceremony labelled her killing an act of terrorism.

“The whole nation stands by the Pakistani girl who was martyred in a terrorist attack in the US. May God give patience to her parents and family,” provincial governor Mohammad Zubair told reporters after the funeral.

Hours earlier, a Pakistani honour guard escorted Sheikh’s casket off a plane at Karachi’s Jinnah International airport during a ceremony overseen by government officials and US consul John E. Warner.

Following the funeral, Pakistani Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai — who was shot by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating girls’ rights to education — also weighed in, calling for an end to school violence.

“I hope leaders in the US, Pakistan and around the world will do justice to the lives of Sabika, her classmates and their teachers by doing more to stop violence in schools,” said Yousafzai in a statement.

Sheikh had been in the US on a State Department-sponsored exchange programme but was due to return home in mere weeks ahead of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Despite strained relations between Washington and Islamabad, the US has long been a favoured destination for Pakistani students studying abroad, with thousands enrolling in American schools every year.

Sheikh’s death came just three months after another school massacre in Parkland, Florida killed 17 people, sparking an unprecedented grassroots, student-led gun control movement.

The shooting in Santa Fe was the 22nd such incident at a US school this year, according to media reports, a disturbing statistic in a country where firearms are part of everyday life and there are more than 30,000 gun-related deaths annually.

AFP

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Texas School Shooting: What We Know

Texas Governor Greg Abbott holds hands with family and friends at a vigil held at the First Bank in Santa

Texas Governor Greg Abbott holds hands with family and friends at a vigil held at the First Bank in Santa Fe for the victims of a shooting incident at Santa Fe High School where a shooter killed at least 10 students on May 18, 2018, in Santa Fe, Texas.  Bob Levey/Getty Images/AFP

 

The latest mass shooting at a US school unfolded Friday in the Texas town of Santa Fe, where at least 10 people were killed by a heavily armed student.

The tragedy occurred just three months after the massacre in Parkland, Florida, where a former student entered a high school and killed 17 people.

 What happened 

Police said a 17-year-old student, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, burst into a classroom and opened fire at Santa Fe High School, about 30 miles (50 kilometres) southeast of Houston, as the school day was beginning around 8:00 am.

Authorities said 10 people were killed and another 10 injured, as students fled in panic, seeking shelter in nearby homes or shops for safety, or lining up on school fields as the injured were taken away in ambulances.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the “majority” of the 10 dead were students. Abbott said two of the 10 wounded were in critical condition. One of them was a police officer.

Six students and a teacher’s aide were identified late Friday as being among the fatalities, local media reported.

Among the dead was Sabika Sheikh, an exchange student from Pakistan in Texas as part of the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program, Pakistan’s embassy in Washington said in a statement.

Also killed was substitute teacher Ann Perkins, known to many as “Grandma Perkins,” the Houston area CBS affiliate reported.

The Houston Chronicle said Pagourtzis was armed with pipe bombs in addition to firearms.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said searches were being conducted at two residences and “various explosive devices” were found including a “CO2 device” and a Molotov cocktail.

The shooter 

Pagourtzis, a junior at the school, was taken into custody on murder charges.

Police said he was carrying a shotgun and revolver legally owned by his father under a long coat when he opened fire on fellow students.

Abbott said journal entries by the suspect suggested he wanted to commit suicide but that “he gave himself up.”

Abbott also said there were no “warning signs” about the suspect ahead of time although he did post a picture on his Facebook page of a T-shirt with the words “Born to Kill” on it.

Law enforcement authorities were questioning two “people of interest,” the governor said. One may have “certain information,” he said, and the other had some “suspicious reactions.”

 Political reaction 

US President Donald Trump expressed “sadness and heartbreak” over what he called an “absolutely horrific” incident — the second mass shooting in Texas in six months — and ordering flags to fly at half-staff on all public buildings.

Trump, who has previously favoured arming teachers, acknowledged that “this has been going on too long in our country.”

“My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools, and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves, and to others,” he said.

Survivors of February’s high school shooting in Parkland, Florida voiced solidarity and vowed to press on with their campaign for tighter gun laws.

AFP

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