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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Victim of Texas school shooter "rejected his advances" 

Dimitrios Pagourtzis is accused of killing ten people at a Texas school

Santa Fe High School baseball players bow their heads in a moment of silence for the shooting victims at their school before a baseball game against Kingwood Park High School in Deer Park, Texas, Saturday, May 19, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Santa Fe High School baseball players bow their heads in a moment of silence for the shooting victims at their school before a baseball game against Kingwood Park High School in Deer Park, Texas, Saturday, May 19, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The mother of one of the 10 people killed at a Texas high school said her daughter recently rejected the romantic advances of the 17-year-old charged in the shootings, a possible motive for the violent tragedy.

Sadie Rodriguez said her daughter, Shana Fisher, had made clear that she was not interested in Dimitrios Pagourtzis.

"He continued to get more aggressive," Ms Rodriguez told The Associated Press in an interview conducted Saturday via Facebook. "She finally stood up to him and embarrassed him."

The incident took place one week before the shooting, Ms Rodriguez said. Police have not yet said what might have motivated the attack.

Asked about the allegation, a lawyer for the Pagourtzis's family said he hadn't heard about any such interaction between him and any of the victims and therefore couldn't comment.

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"That's news to me," said lawyer Nicholas Poehl, though he cautioned that he'd spent much of the day disputing false rumours about the teen's personal life. Earlier Saturday, Mr Poehl issued a statement from the family saying that they were "as shocked and confused as anyone else by these events that occurred" and asked for privacy.

"While we remain mostly in the dark about the specifics of yesterday's tragedy, what we have learned from media reports seems incompatible with the boy we love," the family's statement said.

A student at Santa Fe High, Pagourtzis hid a shotgun and a handgun under his trenchcoat before opening fire in a first-period art class on Friday, according to an affidavit filed by police. The FBI announced Saturday that it had taken the lead in the joint investigation, at the request of local authorities.

"He gave a statement admitting to shooting multiple people inside the Santa Fe High School with the intent on killing people," the police affidavit said. "Dimitrios advised he did not shoot students he did like so he could have his story told."

The attack ended when Pagourtzis walked out of a classroom and surrendered to police.

Authorities say Pagourtzis planned the killings, carried out with weapons owned by his father. Though Pagourtzis allegedly wrote about his intention to carry out the attack, authorities have not indicated a motive for the violence.

The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, said Pagourtzis had planned to kill himself after the shooting, but that Pagourtzis told police "that he didn't have the courage to commit the suicide."

Some Santa Fe High students indicated that Pagourtzis may have had one or more targets, though details were not clear. Breanna Quintanilla, 17, a junior, said she was in her art classroom Friday morning in what she described as a "perfectly normal day" when she heard gun shots.

Ms Quintanilla said when Pagourtzis first walked in, he pointed at one person and said, "I'm going to kill you."

Ms Quintanilla, who was wounded escaping the classroom, did not identify that student.

At a news conference, Mr Abbott said Pagourtzis had not previously been in trouble. "The red-flag warnings were either nonexistent or very imperceptible," he said.

Pagourtzis had made a series of incendiary posts on social media, which were quickly removed when his identity first emerged. One Facebook post was a picture of a T-shirt reading "Born to Kill."

In the wake of the shooting, various reports that Pagourtzis was bullied have surfaced from his classmates. However, two Santa Fe High students who said they knew Pagourtzis said they had no reason to suspect that he was planning Friday's attack.

Student Michael Farina said: "He seemed relatively happy for the most part."

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