By Atiya Riffat
Ten students were killed and as many injured when a teenaged gunman opened fire at a Texas high school on Friday morning.
Among the slain victims was Sabika Sheikh, a Pakistani teenager who was studying in the US as part of a high school exchange programme, facilitated by the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programme.
The gunman — arrested on murder charges — was identified as Dimitrios Pagourtzis, a 17-year-old junior at Santa Fe High School. He was being held on capital murder charges, meaning that he could face the death penalty.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said 10 people died and another 10 were wounded in “one of the most heinous attacks that we´ve ever seen in the history of Texas schools”.
Texas flags across the state are being lowered to half-staff in memory of those who lost their lives in the school shooting at Santa Fe High School today.
The Pakistan Embassy in Washington, DC, tweeted confirmation that Sabika Sheikh was among the deceased.
Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, expressed heartfelt condolences for the victims of the tragic incident and said his thoughts and prayers are with Sabika’s family and friends.
DC, Ambassador Chaudhry expressed regret and sadness at the tragedy and said the embassy was cooperating with Sabika’s family at this time of grief.
He assured that all arrangements are being made to send her body to Pakistan at the earliest.
Earlier, Ariel Russell, a fellow YES programme student, tweeted the news of Sabika’s death.
‘Sabika was going to return home next month’
A resident of Karachi, Sabika Sheikh — killed Friday in the Santa Fe high school shooting — was the eldest of three sisters. She was studying in the US under the YES programme since August 2017 and was due to return to Pakistan next month.
“Sabika was going to come home on June 9,” her grieving father told media adding that the family received the shocking news about her death after iftar on Friday night.
US President Donald Trump called the latest school massacre “absolutely horrific.”
“My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves and to others,” Trump said at the White House.