The father of the Greek American Texas shooter spoke for the first time after his son, Dimitrios Pagoutzis, opened fire in an art class in his Houston-area high school on Friday, killing eight students and two teachers.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the dead include two teachers, Glenda Perkins and Cynthia Tisdale, along with Shana Fisher, a student that the shooter allegedly made advances towards, and seven of her classmates: Kimberly Vaughan, Angelique Ramirez, Christian Riley Garcia, Jared Black, Christopher Jake Stone, Aaron Kyle McLeod and Sabika Sheikh, an exchange student from Pakistan.
Weeping Antonios Pagourtzis told Greece’s ANT TV that he never thought his son was capable of committing mass murder, the fourth-deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. public school in modern history.
“My son never quarreled with anybody, he was not drinking, his only hobby was physical exercise,” Pagourtzis said.
He described the last hours he spent with his son saying that in the morning of the shootings he left early for school and told him “dad I love you, I’ll see you in the afternoon.”
“I feel the pain of others, but I have the same pain … I have lost my child. All I’m trying to do now is to save him from execution. He should have killed me instead,” he added.
Earlier, the family said in a statement: “We are as shocked and confused as anyone else by these events that occurred” while offering prayers and condolences to the victims.
The family said they remained “mostly in the dark about the specifics of yesterday’s tragedy” but “what we have learned from media reports seems incompatible with the boy we love.”
“We share the public’s hunger for answers as to why this happened and will await the outcome of the investigation before speaking about these events,” their statement read.
Antonios Pagourtzis emigrated to the United States in his mid-twenties but still visits his Greek village of Magoulitsa near Karditsa in central Greece at least once a year.
He usually visits in the summer and runs a local business selling agricultural machinery, one resident acquainted with him told Reuters.
The family were “peaceable people, focused on work, business-minded,” he said, asking not to be identified.
“He never caused trouble,” he said of the father.
Dimitrios rarely visited the village – locals say they saw him either last summer or the summer before – and spoke of a quiet person who did not show signs of unusual behavior, Reuters reported.
8:55 a.m. EST: This article was updated with additional details that include the names of the victims lost in the school shooting.
This article was originally published at 3:48 a.m. EST