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Santa Fe Shooting: What Happens Now?


We're going to start the program today in Santa Fe, Texas, just one day after a gunman turned the tight-knit community's high school into a horrific crime scene. Ten people are confirmed dead, and the gunman, a student, is in custody. NPR's Cory Turner is there in Santa Fe and has this story.

CORY TURNER, BYLINE: If any one voice captures the pain and the resilience of Santa Fe, a community still rebuilding in many ways after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey last year, it's Congressman Randy Weber. He spoke earlier today at a press conference.


RANDY WEBER: We'll pull together. We will grieve together. We will love one another. We'll work together. We did it after Harvey - still doing it after Harvey. We'll do it after this.

TURNER: On the drive into this small town, named for the railroad that gave it life, a sign in front of the Kwik Kar Oil and Lube reads, you're in our prayers. And you'll find many more like it on the stretch of road that leads to Santa Fe Junior High School. That's where students and just as many parents began arriving midday today.


TURNER: From here, students were driven on long, yellow buses to the high school - still a crime scene - so that they could retrieve their cars and, some of them, their personal belongings. When someone asks Autumn Harrison, a 16-year-old sophomore, if she'll be ready to go back to school...

AUTUMN HARRISON: Not at all. I'm not even ready to get on the bus and go get my stuff. I'm not - I'm scared. I'm still trying to figure out - I mean, I don't know if there's going to be another one or not.

TURNER: Harrison says she was on the school's second floor when the fire alarm went off. She made it out. Her friend Christian, though, did not.

AUTUMN: I mean, he was my best friend. He did everything for me. And, like, he'd literally sit there there - lunch, if I was crying, he'd come up to me and hug me. He meant a lot to everyone here.

TURNER: But when asked what needs to happen to make her school safer, she says she doesn't think guns are the problem.

AUTUMN: Gun control? Honestly, I don't think it's the guns' fault. I think it's the people shooting people. I mean, to be honest, how can a gun just pull a - how can a gun pull its trigger by itself? It can't.

TURNER: Instead, she says, she'd like to see more security in her school - bullet-proof glass, more metal detectors. Harrison's friend, sophomore Alyssa Voll, says she doesn't know how she feels.

ALYSSA VOLL: I believe that any kid who goes up and shoots a school is just - like, I believe that they're hurt inside, and that they're hurting. They just don't know how to deal with it, you know?

TURNER: This question about how this could have been prevented and how do you prevent the next school shooting is complicated in a place like Santa Fe. I spoke to a man today who said one of his grandkids escaped the high school - the same school he attended decades ago. He echoed both Voll and Harrison, saying maybe school security needs to improve and so do mental health services. But when it comes to access to guns, Santa Fe is a rural community. Everybody has guns, he said, and I don't think much will change. Cory Turner, NPR News, Santa Fe, Texas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Cory Turner reports and edits for the NPR Ed team. He's helped lead several of the team's signature reporting projects, including "The Truth About America's Graduation Rate" (2015), the groundbreaking "School Money" series (2016), "Raising Kings: A Year Of Love And Struggle At Ron Brown College Prep" (2017), and the NPR Life Kit parenting podcast with Sesame Workshop (2019). His year-long investigation with NPR's Chris Arnold, "The Trouble With TEACH Grants" (2018), led the U.S. Department of Education to change the rules of a troubled federal grant program that had unfairly hurt thousands of teachers.