Santa Fe mass shooting suspect taken into federal custody, attorney says

Dimitrios Pagourtzis’ attorney, Nicholas Poehl, confirmed that the 17-year-old, accused of killing eight classmates and two teachers, was transferred, however, it has not been released what he will be charged with.

Santa Fe mass shooting suspect taken into federal custody, attorney says
(Jason Miles)

HOUSTON — Accused Santa Fe High School shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis was taken into custody by federal agents Monday morning, according to his defense attorney.

Pagourtzis’ attorney, Nicholas Poehl, confirmed that the 17-year-old, accused of killing eight classmates and two teachers, was transferred, however, it has not been released what he will be charged with.

There is a hearing scheduled for 1 p.m. at the federal courthouse in Galveston.

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On Feb. 27, a Galveston County judge granted the change of venue request in Pagourtzis’s case.

Both the prosecution and defense were scheduled to be back in court May 10 to determine where the trial will be moved.

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Some victims' family members broke down when Pagourtzis walked into the courtroom during the February hearing.

“I was looking at him to see if I could see some remorse,” said Sonia Lopez, the mother of a shooting survivor. “And I didn’t get it.”

Survivors and victims’ families agreed changing venue is best.

“We don’t want them to have anything to say in regards to not being a fair trial,” said Lopez, whose daughter Sarah was shot.

“I was more worried that (the judge) would deny it, which I think would prolong things. So I was satisfied, actually, pretty happy.”

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Their pain remains fresh. Eight students and two teachers died during the shooting at Santa Fe High School. Victim families and survivors dread re-living their losses in a trial. Certainly, none want to risk a re-trial.

“I don’t want there to ever be any question on this case,” said Flo Rice, who survived the May 18 shooting. “I believe no matter where it is the outcome will be the same.”

Her husband, Scot, prefers the trial never happens. With no death penalty possible, he wants Pagourtzis’ parents to change the teen’s plea, skip trial and go straight to sentencing.

“Forgo this trial and this torture for the citizens of Santa Fe and Texas and for the families that are going to have to travel and hear the horrible details of this crime," Scot Rice said.

Lopez said it is most important to see justice served. Her family and others plan to travel and hear every day of the potential trial, no matter where it happens.

The suspect's parents also wept when they saw him during the February hearing.

Pagourtzis' attorney asked the judge for a change of venue because he said his client can't get a fair trial in Galveston County.

Poehl said there's a smaller jury pool available in Galveston County, so it would be tougher to find jurors who haven't already made up their minds about the case.

They blame bias, in part, on social media comments and even those made by political leaders following the incident.

“This case is the very type of case that is the reason we have a change of venue process in Texas,” Poehl said. “Because sometimes you just need to move the case.”

Prosecutors maintained the judge can adequately evaluate potential prejudice when it comes time to pick a jury. They cited other highly publicized cases where trials took place in the jurisdictions in which crimes were committed.

A judge will determine where the trial will be held in May.

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