Santa Fe High School senior Wesley Hill was in first period when his teacher told the class there was an active shooter on campus and ordered them to hide. Less than 30 minutes later, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis was in custody as ten students lay dead and at least ten others injured.
For the next 72 hours Wesley documented for VICE News what it’s like when it happens at your school and in your town.
Like the students in Parkland, Florida, Wesley and his friends say they never really thought this would happen at their school, but unlike the Parkland attack, this shooting has not become a rallying cry for gun control.
This is Texas, after all. And Santa Fe, with a population of 13,000, is the definition of small-town Texas.
“The first person that reached out to me when they saw I was on the news was March For Our Lives Houston,” Wesley said. “I straight up told them right then and there that they’re reaching out to the wrong people. I said this is Santa Fe. This is not a city. this is a small town, country town. I said you’re not gonna take our guns away.”
“We don’t need gun control,” Wesley’s friend Toby Fulmer added. “What we need is someone doing better background checks on the people who are buying the guns. Maybe do some mental stable checks. But people who say we need gun control are, I’m not gonna call them idiots, but they are idiots.”
Fulmer added, “We’re a tight-knit community. Mostly everybody here hunts, shoots, they do some kind of something with guns. And if you take that away? What are we gonna do?”
Wesley’s mother, Tiffany Hill, also thinks more guns and better parenting is the answer. “Arm the teachers. It doesn’t have to be every single teacher in every single classroom. It doesn’t,” she said. “But, you know, if we’re going to ask these teachers to parent our children, then we need to ask them to protect those same children.”
One thing the students in Santa Fe and the students in Parkland do have in common: A tragedy has made their community known for something it doesn’t want to be known for.
“You know the crazy thing was nobody knew where Santa Fe was,” Wesley said. “I tell people I’m from Santa Fe and they looked at me — New Mexico? No, Texas people, Texas. There is a Santa Fe in Texas. I liked being under the radar in a small town where nobody knew where it was at.”
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