Santa Fe school shooter's father claims his son was "bullied and mistreated" by classmates and teachers
Seventeen-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis is accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Texas high school and injuring many others
The father of the 17-year-old student who gunned down 10 people at a Texas high school said that his son was recently bullied and was the real "victim". The bullying apparently caused him to lose his mind, according to him.
Antonios Pagourtzis spoke to Greece's Antenna TV in a phone interview, where he wished that he could have stopped his son on Friday at Santa Fe High School.
As he described how he told responding officers to let him inside the school, so that his son could kill him instead, his voice cracked. Antonios suspects that his son, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, was under pressure due to bullying.
"Something must have happened now, this last week," he told the station. "Somebody probably came and hurt him, and since he was a solid boy, I don't know what could have happened. I can't say what happened. All I can say is what I suspect as a father."
Nicholas Poehl, the suspect's attorney, is now investigating whether the kid had endured bullying at the hands of teachers after he read reports of the teenager being ill-treated by his football coaches. However, in a statement, the school district said that upon conducting a thorough investigation, it "confirmed that these reports were untrue."
Before leaving for school on the ill-fated day, Pagourtzis took a shotgun and handgun that belonged to his father from the closet. Antonios cried that his son did not own any firearms of his own.
"My son, to me, is not a criminal, he's a victim," he said. "The kid didn't own guns. I owned guns."
Currently, Dimitrios, charged with capital murder offenses, is being detained in the Galveston County jail. Eight students and two teachers were killed in the massacre along with 13 others who were wounded, reported law enforcement authorities.
The devastated father pleaded that his son was never violent growing up. He never fought with others and did not even consume alcohol, he said.
Antonios, who owns a Houston based-shipping repair company and moved to the United States from Greece as a child, said his son seemed to enjoy positive workouts and would never do such a thing.
"He never got into a fight with anyone. I don't know what happened," he said.
"I hope God helps me and my family understand. We are all devastated. It would have been better if he shot me than all those kids."
Law enforcement authorities have asserted that the firearms used in the shooting - a Remington shotgun and a .38-caliber revolver - belonged to Dimitrios's father.
"I have guns, I am a hunter and had a farm which I rented in the 1980s," he said. "The guns in my house are legal and declared."
"He pulled the trigger but he is not this person," he said. "It is like we see in the movies when someone gets into his body and does things that are not done. It's not possible in one day for the child to have changed so much."
Antonios, along with his wife, were allowed to visit their son for 15 to 20 minutes after he had been taken into custody.
"I saw the child. I didn't see a child who is a murderer. A pure child, a child who was ashamed to look me in the face," his father said. "He was thinking of his sisters, how his sisters will be able to get about. He said he loves me. He told his mother he loves her, and he will try to be strong to help us cope."
Maintaining that Dimitrios had acted on his own, he said that his son had told him he had spared "the kids who were the good kids so they can tell his story."
The teenager's defense attorney, Poehl, has still not found a motive for the shooting. He denied rumors suggesting that the shooting was carried out by Dimitrios as revenge against a girl, Shana Fisher, who allegedly turned him down.
Poehl maintained that when his client was asked about one of the girls he shot and killed and if she had rejected his relentless advances, he was clueless about the subject.
However, Shana's mother, Sadie Rodriguez, claimed that her daughter had been dodging the shooter's advances since a month before the attack. She said that off late, Dimitrios had become "more pushy" with her daughter until she publicly rejected him in one of their classes.
Having said that, the deaths of eight students and two teachers at the high school had pushed Greg Abbot, the governor of Texas, to organize a series of roundtable discussions on school safety starting Tuesday.
"I am seeking the best solutions to make our schools more secure and to keep our communities safe," Abbott said.