JJ Watt visits Santa Fe shooting victims

SANTA FE, Texas—  Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt and former New York Giant defensive end and native Houstonian, Michael Strahan, met with survivors of the Santa Fe High School shooting Monday.

While the shock of the shooting still lingers.....life goes on for survivors.

"It's sickening," 17-year-old Santa Fe student Shelby Aguilera remarked. "And I can't believe it happened in my school still."

Several of the injured still remain in the hospital, with some in good condition and others still critical, like Santa Fe ISD police officer John Barnes.

"Officer Barnes is a hero," Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset declared.

Officials say Barnes and a fellow officer saved lives by taking on the shooter.

"They contained him in that one area, isolated to them, engaging with them so he did no more damage to other classes," the sheriff pointed out.

Santa Fe hospital patients got a real lift from a surprise visitor-- none other than Houston Texans star J.J. Watt!

J.J. especially made an impression on Santa Fe student Sarah Salazar, who faces a surgery for a shoulder replacement.

Sarah's best friend tweeted to J.J. saying, "You made her feel so special today it means so much to see that beautiful smile on her face!"

Not only did Watt visit other survivors, he stepped in and offered to pay for the victims' funerals.

“I think it’s incredible. What J.J.’s done in a philanthropic way for this city is incredible. People say it all the time, ‘Our hearts go out to Santa Fe,’ but it’s more than that. It’s a complicated subject. I’ve heard a lot of different opinions on it over the last week. It’s a horrendous thing. I have two young sons. You send them to school and you’re sending them to the safest place that you know," said Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien. "When these things are happening in these schools, it’s a terrible thing. We have to all come together, obviously, politicians mainly, need to come together and get it right. Whatever the answer is, they need to come together and get it right because it’s got to stop happening. But what J.J. has done, nothing surprises me with J.J. He really cares about Houston. He cares about people, and it’s a great thing.”

 

The Santa Fe community needs as much positivity as it can get following Friday's deadly shooting. The shooter, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, is currently being held on charges of capital murder and aggravated assault on a public servant. Pagourtzis allegedly used a shotgun and a revolver to kill eight students and two teachers, and injured 13 others.

On Tuesday afternoon, some students returned to Santa Fe High School to pick up items left behind in the chaos-- and they say the silent, dark hallways were just plain eerie.

"I don't know what to think about it," Shelby Aguilera expressed. "I'm still shook up about it. It's still unreal."

Meanwhile, Governor Greg Abbott launched a series of closed-door roundtable discussions in Austin to hear a variety of suggestions this week for improving school safety.

"The problem is that innocent people are being shot, and that must be stopped!" the governor announced.

When Santa Fe district students return next week, officials say beefed up security will join them.

"Once our students return to school, we will be providing additional security at all campuses with the assistance of the Texas DPS as well as other local law enforcement agencies," Santa Fe ISD Police Chief Walter Braun said.

O'Brien agrees that something must be done.

“I’m going to go down the political – I’m a football coach. I’ve heard whether it be NBA coaches or NFL coaches have had their opinions on it. I respect everybody’s opinion, but something is wrong when there’s 22 mass shootings in the last, whatever it is, six months in schools in this country. Something is wrong," O'Brien said. "To me, it starts with what the laws are, what politicians set to be the laws and the communication that has to take place to enact laws that are in place where schools are safe because it’s ridiculous right now. It’s horrendous that a 17-year-old kid can bring a gun into a school and murder 10 people. That’s horrible.”

As the search for answers goes on, hopefully, some solutions will be found, too, so this all-too-frequent tragedy never happens again.

If you would like to help the community of Santa Fe you can donate on the Santa Fe updates website.