By Liz Hampton
SANTA FE, Texas (Reuters) - A teenage boy who shot and killed eight students and two teachers during a gun rampage at a Houston-area high school had been spurned by one of his victims after making aggressive advances, her mother told a newspaper.
Sadie Rodriguez, the mother of Shana Fisher, 16, told the Los Angeles Times that her daughter rejected four months of aggressive advances from Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, who is in jail charged with murdering 10 people early on Friday at the high school in Santa Fe.
Fisher finally stood up to him and embarrassed him in class, the newspaper quoted her mother as writing in a private message to the Times.
For graphic on timeline of major mass shootings in the United States since 2007 click https://tmsnrt.rs/2LfKug6
"A week later he opens fire on everyone he didn't like," she said. "Shana being the first one."
Rodriguez could not independently be reached for comment.
If true, it would be the second school shooting in recent months driven by such rejection.
In March, a 17-year-old Maryland high school student used his father's gun to fatally shoot a female student with whom he had been in a recently ended relationship.
Police said Pagourtzis confessed to Friday's killings after he was taken into custody, but authorities have offered no motive yet for the massacre, the fourth-deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. public school in modern history.
The Santa Fe Independent School District (ISD) denied accounts from some classmates that Pagourtzis had been bullied, including by a football coach.
"Administration looked into these claims and confirmed that these reports are untrue," it said on Saturday in a statement on Facebook.
Classmates at the school, which has some 1,460 students, described Pagourtzis as a quiet loner who played on the football team. He wore a black trench coat to school in the Texas heat on Friday and opened fire with a pistol and shotgun.
In Santa Fe on Sunday, many churches and businesses had signs outside with messages such as "Santa Fe strong" and "Santa Fe ISD we are here for you."
About 100 people attended an emotional service at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church. Service dogs were in a nearby hall to help console grieving victims.
Jared Black, one of the students killed, attended a youth group at the church, and many of its members embraced his mother Pam when the family arrived.
"I was not prepared for dealing with the aftermath," Rusty Norman, president of the Santa Fe ISD board of trustees and a member of the church, said in an address to the congregation.
"What was supposed to be a safe place was not."
It was the latest rampage to stoke a long-running national debate over gun ownership, three months after a student-led gun control movement emerged from a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17 teens and educators.
Many of those student activists have taken aim at the pro-gun National Rifle Association (NRA).
Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," NRA President Oliver North said students should not be afraid to attend class, but that his gun-rights advocacy group does not think the solution is to limit the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
"I believe that we can make sure kids are protected without taking away the rights of law-abiding citizens," North said, calling for metal detectors in schools and more use of the NRA's offer to schools of free security assessments.
Pagourtzis has provided authorities little information about the shootings, his attorney Nicholas Poehl said, adding: "Honestly because of his emotional state, I don't have a lot on that."
Texas' governor, Greg Abbott, a Republican, told reporters that Pagourtzis obtained the firearms from his father, who had likely acquired them legally.
Abbott also said Pagourtzis wanted to commit suicide, citing the suspect's journals, but lacked the courage to do so.
Pagourtzis' family said in a statement they were "saddened and dismayed" by the shooting and "as shocked as anyone else" by the events. They said they are cooperating with authorities.
(Reporting by Liz Hampton; Additional reporting by Erwin Seba in Houston and Ian Simpson in Washington; Writing by Rich McKay and Daniel Wallis; Editing by Keith Weir and Andrea Ricci)