In a pine-shaded field behind Santa Fe’s town bank, about 1,000 people gathered Thursday evening to pray for those killed and wounded at the high school that morning. The superintendent spoke, followed by the mayor, the governor and a senator.
The assembled shared stories, and tears, describing the latest school shooting in America. Ten died and 10 were wounded, and as the vigil progressed, the names of some of the fallen spread through the crowd of parents and pastors, bikers and bankers.
Among those attending was Abel San Miguel, 15, who was wounded when the shooter fired into the door of the art class storage closet where he had hidden with a handful of classmates. They took refuge after hearing gunfire approaching down the hall.
“I was terrified. I didn’t know if I was going to make it,” he said.
The gunman was armed with a shotgun and a .38-caliber handgun, and Abel could see the double barrels of the shotgun. He said one of the bullets struck and killed a junior near him, Chris Stone. Another grazed Abel’s back. “He was just trying to shoot to hit someone,” Abel said.
When the shooter left the room briefly, Abel and others emerged from the closet and tried to barricade the door.
But the shooter pushed it open, and spotted someone he knew named Kyle. “When he saw Kyle he said, ‘Surprise,’ ” Abel recalled, adding that the gunman spoke with an “angry, revenge-type voice.” Then he shot the boy in the chest.
Abel came to the vigil with his family. His father, Gabriel San Miguel, lifted the bandage on Abel’s back to check his wound. He was thinking about the parents of students who had been shot and killed.
“Unfortunately, the other kids didn’t get grazed,” said San Miguel, 46, a cabinet maker.
Many in the crowd wore green Santa Fe High Indians T-shirts. They lit candles, ate hot dogs handed out by Lions Club volunteers and prayed with officials who praised their strength.
Unlike the vigil after the school shooting in February in Parkland, Fla., there was no talk of gun control. No mourning parents pleaded with the president and members of Congress to change the nation’s gun laws. One man even showed up wearing his handgun on his hip, legal under Texas’ “open carry” law. No one challenged him, or even stared.
“The future will be better and bright,” Gov. Greg Abbott said, as Lisa Johnson filmed him with her cellphone.
Afterward, Johnson told her son’s friend to go thank Abbott. But the Republican governor, who is running for reelection, was too mobbed by supporters.
Like many at the vigil, Johnson, 51, an administrative assistant, was still wondering about the welfare of students she had not heard from since the shooting. She had been talking to some neighbors, the parents of a missing student. They were on their way back from a trip to Oklahoma.
“She’s a good Christian girl, goes to church all the time, preaches the word of the Lord to other kids, to my kids,” Johnson said of neighbor Angelique Ramirez, who also baby-sat her son.
Before the vigil ended, Johnson’s cellphone rang. She took the call, and began to weep. Other phones also began to buzz with the news. A girl on Angelique’s softball team started sobbing.
“She’s dead,” Johnson said. “We all call her ‘Angel.’ Now she is one.”