Parents of the teenager accused of killing 10 people and wounding 13 more at Santa Fe High School say they weren’t negligent and did as much as they could for their son, their attorney, Ron Rodgers said.

“In a certain manner of speaking, they lost their son, too,” Rodgers said. “They’re struggling like everyone else on where they go from here.”

Rodgers said he’s trying to clear up “erroneous facts” about his clients propagated in two civil lawsuits, including that the parents didn’t teach their son respect for life and that they had allowed him access to firearms by failing to secure their weapons. But the accused shooter’s father kept his guns locked in a case, Rodgers said.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, is accused of killing 10 people inside Santa Fe High School on May 18 in the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.

Rodgers, hired about a week ago, filed answers Monday in both civil suits on behalf of Rose Marie Kosmetatos and Antonios Pagourtzis, parents of Dimitrios Pagourtzis, generally denying the assertions.

Meanwhile, attorneys in civil cases against the parents said it’s too early to know all the facts, but at least one said he was more confident in the assertions about the parents than he was on May 18.

“We look forward to presenting our case at trial,” attorney Clint McGuire said. “We are confident in the allegations and claims against the parents.”

But the lawsuits against the parents were filed soon after the shooting, alleging facts nobody really knew at the time, Rodgers said.

“Those aren’t really the facts,” Rodgers said.

McGuire, originally representing Rosie Yanas and Christopher Stone — parents of Christopher Jake Stone, 17 — filed the first lawsuit against the family May 24 in the Galveston County Court at Law No. 3, accusing Pagourtzis’ parents of negligence in failing to teach him respect for life and for allowing him access to firearms.

The suit is seeking more than $1 million in damages and has since grown to include six different parents, according to court documents.

A status conference is set for today in that case and attorneys are hoping to learn more evidence through discovery in the coming weeks, McGuire said.

“The murderer pulled the pistol’s and sawed-off shotgun’s triggers, but also upon them, pressed just as firmly, were the fingers of his parents, who utterly failed to teach their son any respect for life whatsoever,” the lawsuit argues.

The parents “negligently and grossly negligently failed to secure their weapons in a reasonable way and put them directly and proximately into use as authors of community-wide tragedy and incomprehensible loss,” the lawsuit asserts.

But Antonios Pagourtzis did keep his guns locked in a safe, Rodgers said.

“Based on my understanding, he must have taken his father’s keys for the gun cabinet,” Rodgers said.

The family hasn’t been able to see the weapons and can’t confirm whether they were in fact the father’s, Rodgers said.

But Lawrence Tylka, the attorney who filed the second lawsuit against Pagourtzis and his parents, said there are still so many questions surrounding the events of May 18.

“We aren’t trying to cast aspersions about anything as there’s a lot of discovery left to do,” Tylka said. “Their child hasn’t filed an answer to any suit, but the way I read their answer, they’re trying to say they are not responsible for him or his actions. But this is their son and their weapons, used in a manner that is totally inappropriate. It’s their duty to secure them in some manner.”

Tylka filed suit against the parents and the accused shooter Aug. 15 in Galveston County probate court on behalf of the family of Cynthia Tisdale, a substitute teacher and one of 10 people killed during the shooting.

The lawsuit seeks more than $1 million in damages, court records show.

Tylka on Tuesday filed a motion for summary judgment against Dimitrios Pagourtzis, asserting he hadn’t responded to the suit by deadline.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com

Locations

Reporter

(26) comments

Kelly Naschke

His parents were solid churchgoing people that tried to raise the kid right. Why no accountability directed toward the media..including the tv industry...movie industry..video game industry...music industry...and main stream media that just can’t wait to sensationalize such horrendous behavior? I have never researched it...but how many people would you estimate that average kid has seen brutally killed on tv...in the movies..and in video games?

Carlos Ponce

So, solid church going people raised an atheist. Interesting.
But there is more to his parents according to Santa Fe students I have heard from.[innocent]

Carlos Ponce

"But Lawrence Tylka, the attorney who filed the second lawsuit against Pagourtzis and his parents, said there are still so many questions surrounding the events of May 18." Agreed.
“'Based on my understanding, he must have taken his father’s keys for the gun cabinet,' Rodgers said. The family hasn’t been able to see the weapons and can’t confirm whether they were in fact the father’s, Rodgers said."
Contradictory since the attorney's understanding is that the son took the keys therefore the guns.
Sounds like police took the cabinet as evidence otherwise they'd look into it to see if they were still there (can’t confirm whether they were in fact the father’s).
And I'd like to know if they lived in Alvin why the boy did not attend Alvin Schools. Sounds like they had two residences, one in Santa Fe one in Alvin. Why?
Explosive devices were found in their Alvin home. How were the parents unaware of those explosives? Which house did the parents live in, Alvin or Santa Fe?
I'm certain the GCDN will assign a reporter to cover this case once it goes to trial. One day there will be answers - or not.

Jim Forsythe

A city and the School Districts areas are not the always same.
He most likely he was in SFISD.
People I know, that live in Hitchcock has kids that go to SFISD. Had a scout that lived by Halls Bayou and went to Alvin schools. Also, you are allowed to send your child to another school district if they have space and you pay a fee.
This was true when my kids were going to school, but may have changed. One school wanted $4,500 per child.


Carlos Ponce

It's more complicated than that from what I hear.

Rusty Schroeder

Jim there were 2 houses, one inside a subdivision in Alvin, the other west of the high school on 6. And yes, Carlos is right, it's more complicated to say the least.

Jim Forsythe


Does it really matter why he was going to SFISD? People died, and it will change that fact.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis was a student at SFISD for many years.
His family had 2 places to live. At least one was in SFISD and the other may be.
The one at 19215 HWY 6 ALGOA, TX 77511 is in the SFISD.
With one being in the school district, he was eligible to go to SFISD
Many students stay with relatives to be eligible to go to a school.


Carlos Ponce

"Does it really matter why he was going to SFISD?"
It might.

Rusty Schroeder

No, it doesn't matter and won't change anything. Living with relatives or using an address is common in SFISD.

Jose' Boix

Above and beyond, it continues to bother me to read one posted media statement: "It’s unclear why suspect Dimitrios Pagourtzis was wearing a duster-style trench coat during the shooting rampage at Santa Fe High School on Friday, considering the district’s dress code policy prohibits that type of clothing."
The school district had defense mechanisms - one being the dress code that went without enforcement; on the day and perhaps for several other days. Just think about the possible alternative result.

Carlos Ponce

I believe that following Harvey the dress code was relaxed since many lost everything. Just my thoughts.

Rusty Schroeder

BS on the thought of wearing a trenchcoat on a 95 degree day, the relaxed policy was for pants and shirts. The dress code should have been re-instated before then anyway, laziness was the cause of that.

Carlos Ponce

95 degree day - outside. Last I heard, most Santa Fe classes are held in air conditioned rooms. One year at Hitchcock High School we provided sweaters to students dressed for a warm day outside but not enough to keep them warm in an air conditioned classroom. Students temperature tolerance varies from day to day, student to student. Even in our local church, some parishioners bring sweaters, coats, jackets to services in the summer.
And I do agree that the dress code should have been re-instated before then. If the boy needed to be warmer, there were dress code alternatives available at HIS ministries if needed.

George Croix

Absent somebody on site tasked with the job and able to see the guy wearing the trenchcoat and able to stop him from entering the school property with it on, a dress code is a moot point. Once inside it's too late to stop someone concealing a weapon, and any attempt to do so by anyone not armed is liable to be theplace Victim #1 is found later.
It's great to have codes and rules and laws but absent an ability to enforce them, they are just words to be debated after the fact as to why they didn't work as intended.
Of course, EVERY violater is not a deranged killer, AND there's a BIG difference between somebody wearing a full length coat on a hot day and somebody violating the code in some other way.
No rationalizing that fact away.

George Croix

Isn't the killer being tried as an adult and to be held to account for his own actions in court?
Then why sue the parents?
If he took MY guns without my permission and did the bad deed would I then be getting sued?
This sounds like there's either more there there, or, worse, there isn't......

Jim Forsythe

George, Dimitrios Pagourtzis was 17, his parents are still held reasonable.
A minor is generally legally defined as a person under the age of 18.

The charging of him as a adult and his being a minor are separate, as far as the law is concerned.
"If he took MY guns without my permission and did the bad deed would I then be getting sued?"
The most likely answer would be yes, if all the other factors were the same.

George Croix

That's REALLY screwed up, Jim, that committing no crime get's you sued for someone else committing a crime.
I say again, if tried as an adult, then that should be how the law looks at him, and the law for parental interaction with an adult is not the same as for a child.
But, these days, thanks to lawyers, everybody wants their cake and to eat it, too....

Jim Forsythe

"I say again, if tried as an adult, then that should be how the law looks at him, and the law for parental interaction with n adult is not the same as for a child." George , good luck on getting that changed.
Just because they are charged in a lawsuit , does not mean that they will lose. Another thing to think about is if a grandchild is over and they somehow get a gun and do a bad thing , who would be held responsible?

When can they be charged as adult.
In Texas, a juvenile court may give up jurisdiction of a case if the child who is 14 or older at the time of the offense has been charged with a “capital felony, an aggravated controlled substance felony, or a first-degree felony.”


George Croix

Don't need any 'what ifs' Jim because this case is not about what might be, but rather what was.
You can sue a hamburger....heck, 40,000 + liars and scammers locally proved you don't even need to have suffered any harm to join a lawsuit....but, as you say, may not get the results you seek....

'What if' an on-the-run bankrobber ran into your house and got your firearm and shot a Policeman.....are YOU the one at fault......??
At some point, we have to get back to where the person comitting the crime gets punished as much or more than those who did not..........


KA Rex

Actually, his parents are not responsible in Texas.

Texas Penal Code:
Sec. 46.13. MAKING A FIREARM ACCESSIBLE TO A CHILD. (a) In this section:
(1) "Child" means a person younger than 17 years of age.
(2) "Readily dischargeable firearm" means a firearm that is loaded with ammunition, whether or not a round is in the chamber.
(3) "Secure" means to take steps that a reasonable person would take to prevent the access to a readily dischargeable firearm by a child, including but not limited to placing a firearm in a locked container or temporarily rendering the firearm inoperable by a trigger lock or other means.

Jim Forsythe

You are right.
"The first lawsuit against the family May 24 in the Galveston County Court at Law No. 3, accusing Pagourtzis’ parents of negligence in failing to teach him respect for life and for allowing him access to firearms."

Rusty Schroeder

I will be glad when this trial is over and he is sentenced, the facts should be available for all to see then. I am glad there are multiple investigations being done and feel fairly confident they will have similar conclusions. This town won't get any closure until finality is reached and justice served.

Jose' Boix

To me what keeps coming around loud and clear is that the lack of enforcement of the rules and policies was a significant factor in this sad and disastrous event. And as such, I don't seem to have heard enough emphasis and total commitment by administrators, trustees and staff of ISDs to change past attitudes. We can change and add rules and equipment, but if there is no commitment to enforce, all will be for naught; heavens forbid!

George Croix

Jose', the problem is what it's always been - rules are inconvenient and take time and require resources to enforce.....
No matter what subject, it nearly always comes back to time and money

Rusty Schroeder

Jose, SFISD went into seclusion and "no comment" mode shortly after the shooting. They were told to do so by lawyers and are still being so. They are just waiting for the next shoe to fall after the reports are made public, it doesn't surprise me. IMHO. rs

Terry Moore

Until the court case we just don't know everything. I can't speak about the father don't know him but mother was involved with them. Most teens start shutting their parents out. I don't know anything about what happened before but if he was mentally unstable that could be a huge factor verses blaming his upbringing. I know first hand 2 children raised in the same household and one with mental illness are totally different personality wise even when treatment is involved. It's so sad that this happened and at those innocent lives were lost. Society needs to work on how to stop this from happening over and over.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for Reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.