Texans turn to God as school rocked by latest shooting

Grief stricken families in southwestern Texas gathered in churches throughout Santa Fe today seeking spiritual succor following a massacre at the town high school, the nation's latest mass shooting.

As federal investigators search for a motive in the assault by a student who murdered eight of his classmates and two teachers, and wounded 13 others, the first funeral service for one of the victims, an exchange student from Pakistan, was set for later in the afternoon.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott attended a service at the Arcadia First Baptist Church just down the road from Santa Fe High School, where students and residents have placed flowers, messages and stuffed animals in honor of those who died there. "We're here to support you," Abbott told members of the congregation in exchanges before the service. "Anything you guys need, let us know. God bless you." Abbott took time to talk with and hug several survivors of the shooting, and parents, and urged them to remain strong.

"I'm just glad he wants to worship together (with us.) It's important that after a tragic event like this we just come together and worship," said Santa Fe 10th grader Joshua Stevens, 15. As services began, interim Pastor Jerald Watkins offered prayers to the roughly 500 congregants. "Lord, sometimes we forget you're even here," he said, as worshippers bowed their heads and nodded.

"It's time like this when all of us realize how fragile our lives really are." 'Harden' schools, as southeast Texas grieved, the political talk shifted towards how to better protect citizens and facilities like schools in a country where guns have become an inextricable part of the fabric of American life.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick made the case for boosting security at schools, something US President Donald Trump advocated after a shooting in Parkland, Florida left 17 people dead.

"We need armed teachers trained, of course, not just anyone who has a gun, trained how to handle active shooters in the schools," Patrick told CNN. "We need to harden the target. We need to get down to one or two entrances into our schools," he added.

Monica Bracknell, 18, said she and other seniors were allowed in to the school Saturday to retrieve their belongings, and were "shaken up" by the condition of the hallways and classrooms.



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