Gun violence in the US

Texas victims: from smiling Pakistani exchange student to substitute teacher with two jobs

Friday’s massacre in the rural community of Santa Fe left 10 dead and wounded 13 more, including a school police officer who is in critical condition

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 May, 2018, 10:22am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 May, 2018, 10:40pm

Eight students and two teachers fell victim to gunfire at a high school outside Houston on Friday morning, becoming the latest casualties in a wave of deadly school shootings in the United States in recent years.

Among the fatalities at Santa Fe High School were a Pakistani exchange student and a substitute teacher trying to make ends meet for her family. Here are brief profiles of some of the victims:

Sabika Sheikh

A 17-year-old Pakistani with a bright smile, Sheikh was proud to be studying in the United States as an exchange student. The experience was organised through YES, a programme funded by the US State Department, according to a Facebook post by the Pakistan Association of Greater Houston.

Cynthia Tisdale

Tisdale was a substitute teacher at Santa Fe High School. She took on a second job as a server at a local restaurant after she became her family’s sole income earner when her husband was diagnosed with an incurable lung disease, her brother-in-law John Tisdale posted on Facebook. The Tisdales have four children.

Christian Riley Garcia

Garcia was remembered on Facebook by the Crosby Church pastor who baptised him years earlier. A photograph of Garcia, 15, taken just days before the shooting, shows him wearing sunglasses, a baseball cap and a slight smile that reveals braces on his teeth.

“Here is Riley about 10 days ago writing scripture on the door frame of what was to be his new bedroom,” Pastor Keenan Smith wrote. “Riley you are greatly loved and greatly missed.”

Kimberly Vaughan

After a desperate search for her missing daughter, US Army veteran Rhonda Hart posted to Facebook that Vaughan had been shot dead in her first-period art class.

“Folks – call your damn senators. Call your congressmen. We need GUN CONTROL. WE NEED TO PROTECT OUR KIDS. #Kimberlyjessica,” Hart wrote in a Facebook post.

Shana Fisher

Just one week after she celebrated her 16th birthday, Fisher was killed when the gunman opened fire on the art class, her aunt wrote on Twitter.

“She should be getting her first car, not a funeral,” tweeted @candithurman.

Chris Stone

Stone, 17, had a passion for adventure and football. The high school junior’s Facebook page features photographs of such sports heroes as the Dallas Cowboys and scenic views of breathtaking wilderness.

Angelique Ramirez

Ramirez’s aunt Sylvia Pritchett, a nurse, frantically asked colleagues on Facebook if her niece was at an area hospital after she was told she had been shot in the leg. Later Pritchett announced that Ramirez was among the fatalities, saying that she had “a broken heart and a soul that can’t process all this right now,” and to “hug your children tightly”.

Jared Conard Black

Black, who according to his Facebook page liked to draw anime pictures, celebrated his 17th birthday just two days before he was shot dead, his uncle told KTRK-TV.

According to a GoFundMe set up by a family friend to raise money for relatives to fly to the funeral from California, Jared’s father “sat in misery for 13 hours not knowing if (his son) was one of the victims. Then he got the devastating news.”

Aaron Kyle McLeod

McLeod, a freshman who went by Kyle, could always be counted on to make light of any situation, said close friend Kali Reeves, who added she wouldn’t have been surprised if the 15-year-old “made a joke about getting shot” if he were still alive.

Reeves heard that her friend had been shot as she was evacuating Santa Fe High School. Reeves said she texted McLeod throughout the day to check up on him. She sent him one final text, saying she hopes he “gets better”. Soon after, she checked Facebook and learned he was one of the 10 killed.

Glenda Ann Perkins

Within hours of the attack, students and others on social media were expressing horror that someone they described as a grandma, a sweetheart and a nurturing angel had been hurt. But the Galveston County district attorney announced Saturday that Glenda Perkins was killed Friday in the Santa Fe High attack.

Most people knew her as Ann – her middle name – Perkins.

A local dance group, TNT Dance Xplosion, asked for prayers for her daughter, who had been with the group, and for her husband: “She was an amazing mom and an adored substitute who was loved by all.” A fundraising website shared a photo of her with a warm smile, and said she had died trying to protect her students.

Reuters, Associated Press. The Washington Post