Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that Friday’s murder of an exchange student among the 10 dead at Santa Fe High School outside Houston demonstrated that “extremism is not the problem of any single country or region, but the whole world is affected by it.”
Eight students and two teachers were gunned down in the attack. Suspect Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, allegedly used his father’s shotgun and .38 caliber handgun; he was arrested after a 25-minute shootout with authorities on campus. Pagourtzis allegedly told police that he spared people he liked.
Shana Fisher, 16, who was hounded for a date by the shooter but turned him down, reportedly told her mother two weeks before the attack that Pagourtzis would kill her. “I know he had pestered her to go out with him. She kept telling him no. For one, he supposedly already had a girlfriend. And two, she just didn’t have feelings for the boy,” her father Timothy Thomas told the Daily Mail.
“He had told her himself he was going to kill her. He was walking around planning this in his head for weeks,” Thomas said. “Shana said that if he came into the school with a gun and killed her, she would haunt him for the rest of his life.”
The body of Pakistani exchange student Sabina Sheikh, 17, was being returned to her home country today after a Sunday funeral in Houston. She had been in the United States for 10 months on a State Department exchange program and was due to return to her family next month.
“Sabika was in the United States on the State Department-sponsored Youth Exchange and Study program, helping to build ties between the United States and her native Pakistan,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Saturday. “Sabika’s death and that of the other victims is heartbreaking and will be mourned deeply both here in the United States, and in Pakistan.”
Sabika was the oldest of four children, from a working-class neighborhood of Karachi. Abbasi visited the family Sunday, declaring “Sabika was a brilliant student and the entire nation is saddened by her death.”
“I kept calling her and sent her messages on WhatsApp. Never before had my daughter failed to reply,” Sabika’s father Abdul Aziz Sheikh said. “We are still in a state of denial. It is like a nightmare.”
Sabika’s uncle Colonel Haider told Dawn newspaper that the student “often spoke about issues such as women’s rights and women empowerment. She would speak to her cousins and friends about these things, too, trying to open up their minds to issues and good causes.”
“She would say herself that she was not interested in studying medicine or engineering. She wanted to fight for people’s rights. We were sure she would grow up to be a social activist,” her uncle said. “Who knew she had such a short life.”
He added that Sabika’s mother “is still in the denial, still praying to God that there has been some kind of a mix-up and Sabika is fine.”