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Katy Perry tells school shooting survivor the U.S. has ‘failed us’ during ‘American Idol’ audition

Trey Louis, 21, survived a high school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, in 2018, when a gunman killed eight students and two teachers.
Trey Louis during auditions on "American Idol".
Trey Louis at auditions for "American Idol."Eric McCandless / ABC

A Texas school shooting survivor moved "American Idol" judges to tears in an audition that aired Sunday.

Trey Louis, "a.k.a Trey from the Fe," 21, a salesman from Santa Fe, Texas, sang a heartfelt rendition of “Stone” by Whiskey Myers for Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. They gave him a standing ovation.

"You got the perfect voice," Bryan told Louis. But it wasn't Louis' performance that made the judges emotional.

"In May 2018, a gunman walked into my school," Louis told the judges when he was asked why he was auditioning. "I was in art room one. He shot up art room two before he made his way to art room one. Lost a lot of friends. Eight students were killed, two teachers were killed, and it’s just really been negative, man. Santa Fe has had a bad rap here since 2018."

On that day in 2018, a 17-year-old student dressed in a trench coat barged inside a classroom at Santa Fe High School in southeast Texas armed with a shotgun and a revolver and opened fire. Among the 10 people who were killed were an exchange student from Pakistan and a substitute teacher with a "lust for life."

Thirteen people were injured, officials said.

Richie let out a sigh and appeared to wipe away tears. Perry broke down, sobbing into her hands.

“Our country has ... failed us,” she yelled, using expletives. “This is not OK. You should be singing here because you love music, not because you had to go through that. ... You didn’t have to lose eight friends. I hope that you remind people that we have to change.”

Louis was in class working on an art project that morning when he heard a loud bang from the room next door, he said on Instagram at the time. He rushed to hide in a closet in the back of the room. A classmate he identified as "Christian" offered to hold the closet door shut, allowing Louis to escape from the school.

"I'm not gonna be the same. No one in art class will be the same, these teachers will never be the same. The school won't be the same," Louis wrote at the time.

Two of his teachers and two of his classmates, including Christian, did not make it out alive, Louis said.

"We have tolerated this for so long, for too long. It’s become a norm," Richie said.

Louis got "yeses" from all three judges, who hugged him before saying the highly sought-after words: "You’re going to Hollywood."

Like Louis, thousands of students have had their lives forever changed by gun violence in schools across the country.

This month, three students were killed and five others were injured when a gunman opened fire at two locations Michigan State University before he led police on a manhunt that ended when he fatally shot himself.

The victims included a “tremendous” leader and athlete, a “great friend” who was “loved by everyone” and a “straight-A student” who wanted to become a doctor, those who knew them said.

There have been 94 mass shootings in the U.S. this year, according to the Gun Violence archive, a nonprofit group that tracks the spread of what has been called an American disease. It defines a mass shooting as a single incident in which at least four people — other than the shooter — are shot.