Texas school shooting victims: Portraits of the fallen
By Jenny Jarvie
May 20, 2018 | 8:55 PM
|Santa Fe, Texas
Ten people were killed Friday in a mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, southeast of Houston.
The victims were formally identified on Saturday by the Galveston County district attorney as teachers Glenda Perkins and Cynthia Tisdale and students Jared Black, Shana Fisher, Christian “Riley” Garcia, Aaron Kyle McLeod, Angelique Ramirez, Sabika Sheikh, Christopher Jake Stone and Kimberly Vaughan.
Here are their stories.
A substitute teacher at Santa Fe High, Cynthia Tisdale was a member of the Anchor Bible Baptist Church in Pharr, Texas, and dreamed of retiring one day to be a full-time grandmother.
She had three children and eight grandchildren, as well as one stepdaughter and three more grandchildren, according to her son, Recie Tisdale, a police detective in League City, about 10 miles from Santa Fe. She was close to turning 64.
“She married my father at 17 years of age and they have been married 46 years,” Recie Tisdale wrote in an email. “This past year Cynthia enjoyed helping others so much she decided to go work as a substitute teacher at Santa Fe High School working with special needs kids.”
"I am at a loss for words,” her daughter Autumn Tisdale wrote on Facebook on Saturday. “All I want to do is get that phone call where she chews me out for being at the softball Fields all day and night long, working out in the heat and not taking enough drinks, or for not being able to get the stains out of my kids clothes.”
“My favorite phone calls were when we just talked and she just went on and on and I just agreed with her as she talked,” Tisdale wrote. “I didn’t think she was my best friend but now I know I was wrong she was my best friend and now all the things I would need to tell her I can’t anymore.”
“She was another mother to me,” Cynthia Tisdale’s niece, Leia Olinde, posted on Facebook. Her aunt taught her to cook and helped her shop for wedding dresses, Olinde said.
“I just wished more than anything I could be with her one last time and tell her how much she means to me,” she wrote.
John Tisdale, her brother-in-law, described Cynthia Tisdale as an “amazing person” who loved her family. In a Facebook post, he said her husband, William Recie Tisdale, was recently diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic lung disease. As his conditioned deteriorated, he had to take early Social Security and was not able to work. To make ends meet, Cynthia took on a second job as a server at a local restaurant.
“Cynthia, as far as I know, never complained,” her brother-in-law wrote.
“I am certain if we could talk to Cynthia, who is in heaven, the first thing she would say is she is concerned how Recie is going to make it...now that she can't bring in the extra money to pay the bills,” he wrote. “That's the kind of person my sister-in-law was! I am going to miss her.”
An exchange student from Pakistan, Sabika Sheikh was studying in Texas under the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program and was set to return home in three weeks for Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
The eldest of three siblings from a middle-class section of Karachi, Sabika was “the lifeline of our family” and a “brilliant student” who had dreams of joining the Pakistani foreign service, according to her father, Aziz Sheikh.
Sheikh said his daughter regularly placed among the top three students in her classes in Pakistan before she began the exchange program last August. In a photo circulated on social media, Sabika is shown smiling and wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the word “Texas.”
After her planned return to Karachi on June 9, the family was going to spend the summer traveling across the country visiting relatives. Her father said Sabika was looking forward to observing Ramadan, which is marked by prayer, daylong fasts and family meals.
“She was a great soul,” he said.
Sabika had recently spoken to her 9-year-old sister on the phone, counting down the days before she would return to her family in Karachi.
“She told me that in 20 days we will be together,” said Sabika’s sister, Soha. “She had bought so many gifts for me.”
Sabika’s middle sibling, brother Ali, described her as his best friend.
“She asked me to make sure her room was neat and clean when she came back,” he told Pakistani news media. “She had also asked our mother to cook her favorite dishes.”
Sheikh said the Pakistani consul general in Houston told him that Sabika’s body would be brought to Karachi on Monday.
Christopher Jake Stone
A junior and avid football player, Chris Stone, 17, arrived at his art class Friday morning after carpooling with his close friend Logan Pettus.
"I took chris to school this morning laughing the whole way there,” Logan, his friend since kindergarten, posted on Twitter early Saturday morning. “Then 45 minutes into school he passes… life hits hard. rip chris❤️”
Chris' 19-year-old sister, Mercedez, described him as a fun-loving and adventurous boy who loved video games, mountain hiking, jet skiing, parasailing and ziplining. He played center, guard and defensive tackle for his high school football team, the Santa Fe Indians.
“He was not the biggest player but he had lots of heart,” Mercedez said in a private Facebook message.
“Being a brother was his best job,” she added. “Although he was the youngest, he definitely protected his sisters as if he was the oldest. He was always there if someone needed someone to listen or some cheering up.”
Just a week ago, the family watched Chris dress up in a formal black tuxedo and bowtie to attend prom with his girlfriend, Reagan. He had initially been reluctant to go because he did not want his mom to have to pay $160 for both tickets plus $250 for the tux.
“Mom didn’t care though,” Mercedez said. “She was just happy he was happy.”
His sister, Angelica, 21, a nursing student, shared a photo album on Facebook on Saturday, showing Chris laughing with family on a wooden deck, posing in his football uniform, traveling on a cruise ship and on a family vacation to Yucatán, Mexico.
She said she wanted her brother to be remembered as the “sweet, funny, dancing, singing, football playing young man that we all knew and loved.”
“My brother was a son, a brother, a boyfriend, but most importantly my bestfriend,” Angelica wrote on Facebook. “I will never understand why you were ripped from us in this way.”
Kimberly Jessica Vaughan
"My daughter was in first period art class at Santa Fe high school today," Rhonda Hart wrote on Facebook on Friday afternoon. "There was a shooter."
In a later post, Hart added the hashtag #oneof10. “Folks-call your damn senators,” she urged. “We need GUN CONTROL. WE NEED TO PROTECT OUR KIDS.”
Kimberly Jessica Vaughan “was a freshman and senior Girl Scout and loved by many,” according to a GoFundMe page organized by Rachel Woratschka.
Hart, a former watercraft operator with the U.S. Army who works for the Santa Fe school district, is a single mother, the GoFundMe page stated.
“We would like to assist her in the expenses associated with this tragic loss that no parent should ever have to bear,” it said. By Saturday afternoon, the page had exceeded its $10,000 goal, raising more than $15,000 for the family.
A 15-year-old with glowing red hair, Angelique Ramirez was a cheerful, loving member of her family who helped raise her younger brother, Amadeus, family friends said.
“With a broken heart and a soul that just can't process all this right now, I have to announce my niece was one of the fatalities,” her aunt, Sylvia Pritchett, a clinical nurse manager, wrote on Facebook.
“Angelique was taken away from her friends and family too quickly,” a family friend, Rebecca Ruiz, wrote in a GoFundMe page appealing for support.
“In her short time with us, Angelique proved to be a kind, compassionate and caring individual. She brought smiles to those who knew her; specifically, her mother (Robin) and younger brother (Amadeus). Angelique's smile was contagious and brightened up any room she walked into. In losing Angelique, her friends and family lost so much.”
"She was busting at the seams with energy and laughter,” a member of the family told Houston TV station KHOU. “She was a magnificent caretaker and a staple in her family. She stood up for what was right and made friends with anyone she saw as a good soul.”
Christian "Riley" Garcia
"YOU WERE ONLY 15," Ashley Fonseca, 21, posted on Facebook about her cousin, Christian "Riley" Garcia. "RIP MY ANGEL ! I LOVE YOU BABY BOY !"
In a private message, Fonseca, a criminal justice student at a community college in Austin, wrote that Riley went to church regularly and loved sailing boats and riding jet skis at the lake. "He just wanted to have fun with family," she wrote.
“He has grown up in our church,” wrote Keenan Smith, a lead pastor at Crosby Church. He said on Facebook that he baptized Riley many years ago in Crosby, a town northeast of Houston.
“I just left his wonderful, loving family and extended all of the prayers and love for them from our Church,” he added. “I don’t know exactly how, but I know together in Christ we can make it.”
Smith shared a photograph, which he said was taken about 10 days ago, of Riley, dressed in a blue Nike T-shirt, mirrored shades and a baseball cap, posing against a door frame of what was to be his new bedroom.
In black marker pen, Riley had written a line from the Bible — Psalm 46:10 — on the raw wood frame: “He says, ‘Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.’”
Glenda “Ann” Perkins
An art teacher and substitute teacher for Santa Fe Independent School District, Glenda “Ann” Perkins studied at the University of Houston and is from Galveston, according to her Facebook page.
"She was an amazing mom and an adored substitute who was loved by all," her daughter Ashley’s former dance and gymnastics club posted on Facebook.
On social media, current and former Santa Fe students posted a string of affectionate tributes to Perkins, whom many called “grandma.”
“I have many memories at Santa Fe high school and Ms. Perkins,” Cody Rambin posted on Twitter. “Every time I would see her in class as a substitute it would just brighten my day.”
“Ann Perkins was a beloved teacher, family friend, & woman,” @lemonylyd tweeted, along with a picture of Ann holding a glass of champagne and another of an engraved award that Ann had received as the high school’s substitute teacher of the year for 2016-17.
“She enjoyed spending time with her children, grandchildren, & students,” @lemonylyd added. “She lived an impeccable life filled with traveling, love, family, & a bit of champagne. Rest easy our beautiful nurturing angel. I love you.”
Shana Fisher turned 16 just 10 days before the shooting.
“My daughter was the most sweet and shy young lady,” her mother, Sadie Rodriguez, posted Saturday on Facebook. “She never hurt anyone. this boy. i cant even do this. i cant even finish this. it isnt even fair.”
Rodriguez said Shana knew the shooting suspect, Dimitrios Pagourtzis: He was her best friend’s ex-boyfriend.
“She had 4 months of problems from this boy,” Rodriguez told the Los Angeles Times in a private Facebook message. "He kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no.”
Rodriguez said Pagourtzis continued to get more aggressive and Shana finally stood up to him and embarrassed him in class.
“A week later he opens fire on everyone he didn't like,” she wrote. “Shana being the first one." Now, Rodriguez said, she had to stay strong for Kaylenn, Shana’s younger sister.
“My heart is being ripped out,” she wrote. “My baby is gone. i cant even go into her room. how do u continue to shoot, after seeing one die before ur eyes?”
After the family waited and searched for Shana all day Friday, her aunt, Ericha Fisher Farris, wrote Saturday on Facebook that her “beautiful niece is gone to heaven with her classmates.”
“Life was not supposed to end like this for our sweet girl,” she wrote. “She should be worrying about getting her drivers license, making plans for summer break, maybe start thinking junior year and making plans for college and what she wants be when she grows up. She should be at home rolling her eyes from fighting with her little sister. She should be worrying about young love, and getting her heart broken. She should be doing all of the things that teenagers go through.”
Jared Conrad Black
Jared Conrad Black turned 17 just a couple days ago and planned to celebrate with a birthday party with friends on Saturday.
“My brother loved to play Minecraft on Xbox, play Pokemon Go on his cell phone, and loved art,” his 11-year-old half-brother, Nick Black, said in a statement. “We miss him so much. We wish we could see him at least one more time.”
Jared's father, Robert Black, who lives in Anaheim, Calif., sat in misery Friday not knowing whether his son was alive or dead, said family friend Elizabeth McGinnis. Finally, at about 6 p.m., he got the news that Jared was among the victims.
“He’s just devastated and broken,” said McGinnis, who has launched a fundraiser to try to help Jared’s father and his family travel to Texas to lay Jared to rest.
“Our hearts are so sad for them,” she wrote on GoFundMe. “They were so blessed to have had Jared & Houston spend last summer here in California with them. It's wonderful memories like those that will remain in their hearts forever!”
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Special correspondent Aoun Sahi in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Times staff writer Shashank Bengali in New Delhi contributed to this report.
May 20, 8:57 p.m.: This article was updated with additional information on Cynthia Tisdale.
May 19, 6:50 p.m.: This article was updated with the official release of all 10 victims’ names.
May 19, 6:15 p.m.: This article was updated with information about shooting victim Jared Black.
May 19, 5:35 p.m.: This article was updated with information on additional victims.
May 19, 12:50 p.m.: This article was updated with staff reporting and information about additional victims.
This article was originally published at 8:40 p.m., May 18.