SANTA FE, Texas — One year ago, a student gunman walked into Santa Fe High School. He killed 10 people and wounded 13 others, casting this small Texas town into the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
Reporters Grace White and Matt Keyser returned to Santa Fe a year later. What they found were heartbroken families who are still frustrated by the lack of transparency into the shooting investigation and at politicians, who some say, aren’t following through on making schools safer.
“(It) feels like we’re kids from some little farm county in Texas where everybody had guns anyway, so it was just bound to happen,” said Rhonda Hart, whose 14-year-old daughter was killed in the shooting.
Flo Rice, a substitute teacher who was shot in both legs, said there's only a small window after a tragedy like this where people are listening.
"So we just need to take this opportunity and talk to many people as we can that will listen and something will get done," Rice said.
In the six-part podcast Santa Fe: Life After the Shooting, White and Keyser share these families’ stories of heartache and how those 30 minutes on May 18, 2018 have changed their lives forever. With the help of KHOU investigative reporter Cheryl Mercedes, they question the politicians who the day of the shooting promised changes to better protect students.
“One thing we heard over and over was these people didn’t think it could happen to them,” Keyser said. “Until it did.”
The podcast doesn’t name the shooter or address his motives.
Instead, it focuses on the families and survivors, the lasting effects of the shooting and the long road ahead.
White said it’s been difficult to hear their stories, but they're important to share.
“If we don’t take the time to look back and learn from these shootings, how can we expect to be better prepared?” she said. “We owe it to these families to remember their loved ones.”
'Santa Fe: Life After the Shooting'
Episode 1: The Day Everything Changed
A student gunman entered Santa Fe High School on May 18, 2018. He killed 10 people and wounded 13 others, casting this small Texas town into the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
Episode 2: The First Two
Officers John Barnes and Gary Forward were the first two officers to confront the shooter. John nearly died trying to protect hundreds of students.
Episode 3: Grammy
So little do we hear about the long-lasting effects on the victims’ families after a school shooting. This is the window into one family’s grief who is still learning to live without the woman they knew as Grammy.
Episode 4: Survivor's Guilt
For some students who have had to return to Santa Fe High School, going back hasn’t been easy. Walking through the doors of the school serves as a constant reminder of the lives lost, their friends and classmates no longer there.
Episode 5: The Long Road Ahead
Unfortunately, there are people out there who know what these Santa Fe families are going through. The principal of Columbine, two moms from Sandy Hook and the father who lost his daughter in a school shooting in Colorado share their experiences of how they continue to remember their loved ones.
Episode 6: Frustration Fuels Change
For some of these Santa Fe families, they’re frustrated and angry. They want more transparency into the shooting investigation, more accountability from politicians. And they’ve had to fight in hopes of keeping the shooter in prison for the rest of his life.