Two substitute teachers and a student from Pakistan were among 10 people killed in the mass shooting at a Texas high school on Friday in which at least 10 more were injured. Other students who were killed were also identified on Saturday.
The 17-year-old suspect, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, was held on a capital murder charge after the shooting in Santa Fe, about 30 miles south-east of Houston.Family members confirmed that a substitute teacher, Cynthia Tisdale, was among the dead. Tisdale’s niece, Leia Olinde, said Tisdale was like a mother to her and helped her shop for wedding dresses last year.
“She helped me put it on, she helped fix my hair,” Olinde, 25, told the Associated Press, through tears. “She was wonderful. She was just so loving. I’ve never met a woman who loved her family so much.”
She said Tisdale was married for close to 40 years and had three children and eight grandchildren. Olinde’s fiance, Eric Sanders, said: “Words don’t explain her lust for life and the joy she got from helping people.”
Tisdale’s brother-in-law, John, wrote on Facebook: “We never know when our death will come. Cynthia planned on one day retiring and being a full-time grandmother. It will never happen.”
A dance studio in Santa Fe posted a picture on Facebook of Ann Perkins, 64, another substitute teacher. “She was an amazing mom and an adored substitute who was loved by all,” the studio said.
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, issued a statement about the Pakistani student who died, sending his “deepest condolences to the family and friends of Sabika Sheikh”. Pompeo said Sabika, 17, was in the US on the state department-sponsored Youth Exchange and Study program, “helping to build ties between the US and her native Pakistan”. The Pakistani embassy in Washington also identified Sabika as a victim.
Sabika’s father, Abdul Aziz Sheikh, told the AP from his home in Karachi that his daughter, the oldest of four children, had left Pakistan last August and was expected to return home in a few weeks for Eid al-Fitr, a three-day holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.
“We are still in a state of denial,” he said, choking back tears. “We can’t believe it. It’s like a nightmare.”
Sheikh said he had learned of the tragedy from TV reports. “I called her but she did not reply. I kept calling and sending her messages. My daughter always replies. Or at least sends a message saying she’ll call back soon. But yesterday, that didn’t happen.”>