Tag: Texas

Watch Heartbreaking Pictures: Open Casket Funeral Is Held For 15yr Old Heroic Santa Fe School Victim Who Was Shot While Shielding His Classmates From Bullets 

Watch Heartbreaking Pictures: Open Casket Funeral Is Held For 15yr Old Heroic Santa Fe School Victim Who Was Shot While Shielding His Classmates From Bullets 

SANTA FE, Texas

  • Christian Riley Garcia, 15, was one of the ten people gunned down in an art class last Friday at Santa Fe High School in Texas 
  • Family and friends held an open-casket funeral service for Christian on Friday
  • His classmates have said that Christian used his body to barricade a closet door during the shooting, shielding others from bullets
  • Christian was a history buff who dreamed of pursuing a career in the military
  • Another service was held for 63-year-old teacher Cynthia Tisdale, earlier Friday

Friends and family gathered to celebrate the life of a heroic student who shielded his classmates from gunfire during last week’s shooting at Santa Fe High School.

Christian Riley Garcia, 15, was one of the ten people gunned down in an art class on the morning of May 18.

His classmates have said that Christian used his body to barricade against a closet door in the classroom to prevent the shooter from getting inside.

An open-casket funeral service was held on Friday in Crosby, Texas, in remembrance of the 15-year-old who had displayed bravery ‘far beyond his years’ during the tragic massacre just one week prior. 

‘[Christian] grabbed me and my teacher and got us into the closet,’ Christian’s best friend Courtney Marshall, 15, told ABC News.

‘[The gunman] just shot into the closet. I saw my teacher just die in front of me and I just saw my best friend die in front of me.’

‘Christian saved my life – he’s a hero.’

Christian, a history buff who had dreamed of pursuing a military career, had grown up attending Crosby Church in the Houston suburb of Crosby where the service was held. 

‘The sacrifice of his own life, others were allowed to escape and had some time to get away,’ Pastor Keenan Smith said of the teen’s bravery. 

‘We know there were several lives lost but his story is a story of true heroism. He gave himself so others would have a chance.’   

A service for another one of the victims, 63-year-old Cynthia Tisdale, was held earlier on Friday.  

The beloved substitute teacher had been married to her husband for nearly 50 years and had four children and 11 grandchildren.

Her service was held in League City, not far from Santa Fe southeast of Houston.

Pagourtzis has been charged with capital murder for the shooting that killed Christian and Tisdale along with eight others: teacher Ann Perkins, 64, and students Sabika Sheikh, Chris Stone, Kim Vaughan, Angelique Ramirez, Aaron Kyle McLeod, Christian Garcia, Jared Black and Shana Fisher.

The parents of 17-year-old Chris Stone filed a lawsuit against the gunman’s parents on Friday based on claims that Pagourtzis used a gun owned by his father.

Christopher Stone and Rosie Yanas have charged Pagourtzis’ parents with not properly securing their weapons and allowing their son access to ammunition, as well as being negligent by entrusting him with weapons.

They also claim that Pagourtzis’ parents didn’t obtain mental health counseling for their son or warn the public about his ‘dangerous propensities’.

On Thursday Texas Governor Greg Abbott met with survivors who recounted horrifying stories of dodging bullets, hiding from the attacker and seeing classmates get shot.

They pleaded with Abbott to push for gun reform, specifically mentioning a need for higher security on school campuses as well as background checks for potential purchasers. 

The three-hour discussion was organized by March For Our Lives, the student-led group that formed following the Parkland shooting in February.

The Republican governor appeared receptive to reform ideas, but the staunch Second Amendment supporter is not expected to push for major changes in legislation. 

Texas ‘Pastor’ Jailed For 99 Years For Starving Toddler To Death During Exorcism 

Texas ‘Pastor’ Jailed For 99 Years For Starving Toddler To Death During Exorcism 

Aracely Meza cradles the limp body of a 2-year-old boy, praying for God to bring the starved toddler back to life. 

The saddening moment was captured on videos that a Dallas County jury watched in March before finding the Balch Springs pastor guilty Friday of felony injury to a child causing serious bodily injury. 

The 52-year-old will serve 99 years in prison for Benjamin Aparicio’s starvation death, one month before his third birthday. Jurors also ordered Meza to pay a $10,000 fine.

Videos captured the hours-long resurrection ceremony Meza led after Benjamin died on March 22, 2015. In the video, the boy is frail, nothing but skin and bones. His clothes hang from his lifeless body. 

Weeks before his death, Meza had ordered that food be withheld from Benjamin for 21 days because she believed he was possessed by the “demon of manipulation.”

The 52-year-old woman’s trial offered a glimpse into the control she had over congregants of her church, Iglesia Internacional Jesus es el Rey. 

Her Balch Springs home, where the boy lived with his parents, served as a commune. 


Mesa separated parents from their children, including Benjamin while he was still being breastfed. Though his mother and father lived in the same home, they weren’t allowed to hold their child.

Many turned to the pastor of the evangelical nondenominational church because she claimed to be a prophet. She performed exorcisms and ordered people to fast.

Nazareth Zurita described feeling like she was in a “trance” when she lived in Meza’s house. She admitted she didn’t intervene while Benjamin was being starved.

Anytime someone questioned Meza, the pastor would say, “The devil is speaking through you. You’re the devil,” Zurita testified. Those who questioned Meza were questioning God. 

Zurita said she now realizes that Meza would use “distorted Scripture” to control the members of her church. Zurita called it “brainwashing.” 

Jurors watched videos of a starving Benjamin being held up and prayed over by Meza. They were also shown the video showing Meza trying to revive the dead child. 

A video shot the day he died shows Meza propping up the child, who had fallen on the kitchen floor. She then puts him over her knee, pulls down his pants and spanks him over and over. The boy cries.

Each video shows Benjamin unable to hold up his head. His collarbones jut out. His cheeks are sunken. His ears look too big for his head. His eyes dart around but never look directly at anyone or anything.

A photo of a healthy Benjamin shows the baby had chubby cheeks and a cute grin. 

Meza testified that God showed her what he wanted her to do, including who should fast. 

“It’s like inside yourself,” she explained through a translator. 

She said God told her Benjamin should start eating again. He was taken off his fast Feb. 13, 2015. 

“The spirit was telling me that Benjamin should start eating,” she said. 

But Meza would still keep food from the toddler. When he didn’t say “amen” after a prayer or didn’t use the restroom properly, she would take his food away. 

Dr. Suzanne Daikil, a child abuse pediatrician, analyzed the videos showing Benjamin, a “severely emaciated child.” 

“The child’s limp, like a rag doll,” she said. “I need him in my hospital.”Daikil said that if Benjamin had been taken to a doctor, he could’ve been saved.

A handwritten note on the refrigerator designated which days each person was expected to abstain from food. 

But Benjamin was the only one kept from food for so long. Prosecutor Rachel Burris asked Meza why she focused solely on Benjamin.

Meza just mumbled and looked down. She said that she realized after he died that she should’ve helped him. 

“I thought that God would wake him up,” she said, adding that she was “praying, thinking God would make a miracle.”

Zurita testified that Benjamin’s parents were afraid to report what was happening to their son or that he had died because they were unauthorized immigrants from Mexico.

Liliana and Zenon Aparicio are believed to still be living in Mexico and have not been arrested, though they face charges. The Aparicios and Meza took Benjamin’s body to Mexico to be buried.

Zurita, 38, was also charged with felony injury to a child. She has reached an agreement with prosecutors for a reduced charge. A guilty plea has not been finalized. 

“The state of Texas made a deal with a demon to get a bigger one,” Burris told jurors. Meza “allowed him to suffer, to waste away and die.” 

Defense attorney Charles Humphreys called Meza “a prisoner of her faith.” But prosecutor Patrick Capetillo argued that Benjamin’s death was not about faith. “This case is not about religion. This case is about control,” he said. 

Watch Video! Texas Family Emotional After They Found Out That This Marian Statue Was The Only ‘Survivor’ Of Hurricane Harvey 

Watch Video! Texas Family Emotional After They Found Out That This Marian Statue Was The Only ‘Survivor’ Of Hurricane Harvey 

 

“I dug through everything …the only thing I found, the only thing that survived was the Virgin Mary.”

It wasn’t just wind and rain that caused damage when Hurricane Harvey blasted through the Texas coast. Fires did their share too.

A family in Robstown, just west of Corpus Christi, lost their homes to a fire just as Harvey was hitting the area. The Rojas family had evacuated their three houses on property they own instead of dealing with a category 4 hurricane. They returned to a distressing sight: all three storey Victorian style home was destroyed by fire.

“The first thing I thought is we would have died in here if we would have stayed. We left, so we’re alive and I just wish this wouldn’t have happened,” Natali Rojas said.

The three storey Victorian styled house before the hurricane


But they also found something in the ashes that they say gave them hope — an intact statue of the Virgin Mary.

“Some may blame God and some may blame the hurricane but the only thing standing were, you know, holy things, as you can see this statue is the only thing that survived, I dug in there for things and all I found is a Virgin Mary,” Rojas said.

“Appreciate what you have, listen to the warnings, hug your children and thank God for today and yesterday, and pray for a better tomorrow.”

Mother Mary is the universal sign for hope, she said.

“I want to thank the Fire Department of Robstown for courage to show up in the storm while the tremendous power, the wind, the rain and they were still out here trying their best it was incredible,” she said.

Their family is safe and together and their faith is even stronger than ever after seeing what survived the fire.

The family is looking to rebuild the house they lost from a fire caused by Tropical Storm Harvey.

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