People at the vigil had brought red and white roses and placed them on the table after it ended, along with smaller white candles in plastic cups some had held. The news was so fresh that the mourners were only just finding out the identities of some of the victims.
An exchange student from Pakistan, Sabika Sheikh; substitute teacher Cynthia Tisdale; and students Chris Stone and Shana Fisher were among those killed, family members and officials said.
Tisdale’s niece, Leia Olinde, told The Associated Press that her aunt was like a mother to her and helped her shop for wedding dresses last year. “She was wonderful. She was just so loving,” said Olinde, 25. “I’ve never met a woman who loved her family so much.”
J.J. Watt, the Houston Texans’ star defensive end, offered on Friday to pay for the funerals of all 10 victims. “Absolutely horrific,” Watt said on Twitter earlier in the day.
Even as they mourned, locals were bracing for the inevitable debate on guns that they knew would follow. The suspect, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who faces capital murder charges, was armed with a shotgun and a revolver that belonged to his father, authorities said. Gun ownership is embraced in the town, but several residents said responsibilities come with it.
“We have guns, but we have them locked up,” Strickland said. She and others said they support placing metal detectors in the schools.
Tim Nicodemus, 47, an Army veteran who makes and sells gun holsters, said education about gun safety is key and he believes those who provide guns to people who shouldn’t have them should be held accountable.
“Those are two steps,” Nicodemus said. “I don’t see how they are wrong.”
Santa Fe has canceled classes on Monday and Tuesday, and then there are just a couple weeks left before summer vacation.
When “something like this happens, you don’t even want to send them back,” said Kristi McFarland, 41, who along with her sister has children in Santa Fe’s middle and high school.
“Our kids are required to go to school and we are required to send them,” said Stephanie Falcon, 40. “But every day we keep them home, they are safe.”