Watch CBS News

Santa Fe High School shooting survivor has emotional "American Idol" audition: "I lost a lot of friends"

Students graduate 2 weeks after shooting
Santa Fe High School students graduate 2 weeks after deadly mass shooting 00:59

He survived the 2018 Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas. Now, Trey Louis is going to Hollywood to compete to be the next "American Idol."

The 21-year-old singer and mattress salesman went viral after his audition aired on "American Idol" on Sunday. During the audition, Louis, who calls himself "Trey from the Fe," sang the song "Stone" by Whiskey Myers. His performance earned a standing ovation from the show's three judges, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan.  

Bryan immediately told Louis, "You've got the perfect voice," and asked him why he wanted to compete for the "American Idol" title. That's when Louis revealed his story. 

"'American Idol,' No. 1, is kind of where people that I enjoy make it. No. 2 – as I said before, I'm from Santa Fe, Texas. In May 2018, a gunman walked into my school," he said, growing visibly emotional. "I was in art room one, he shot up art room two before he made his way to art room one."

Trey Louis appears on "American Idol." Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

Ten people were killed in the the shooting, including two substitute teachers. Another 10 people were injured in the incident, which took place during the school's first-period art class. Police identified the gunman was a 17-year-old student at the school.

"I lost a lot of friends. Eight students were killed. Two teachers were killed," Louis told the judges. "It's just really been negative man, Santa Fe's had a bad rap since 2018." 

His story prompted an emotional and outraged reaction from the judges, all of them tearing up as he recalled the shooting. Bryan told him after that Louis sings from "the perfect spot." 

"You let it come out of your heart and that's what we love around here," Bryan said. 

That's when Perry seemingly broke down, sobbing into her hands. 

"Our country has f***ing failed us," she said. "This is not OK. You should be singing here because you love music, not because you had to go through that... You don't have to lose eight friends."

"I hope that you remind people that we have to change," she added, "because I'm scared too." 

Louis' talent earned him a resounding "Yes" from all three judges, allowing him to move on in the competition and go to Hollywood. 

"Thank you America and Thank you Santa Fe," the singer wrote on his Facebook following the episode, along with photos of him holding onto the show's desired golden ticket. "I Love You." 

Thank you America and Thank you Santa Fe. I Love You

Posted by Trey Louis on Sunday, February 26, 2023
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.