A school shooting at a St. Louis magnet school Monday morning has killed at least three, including the young gunman, while injuring and traumatizing others.
Teacher Jean Kuczka, 61, and student Alexandria Bell, 15, were shot dead, as was the gunman during an exchange of gunfire with police, at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School southwest of downtown. They were among a total of nine who were injured or killed, eight of whom were transported to hospitals, authorities said.
Police Monday evening identified the shooter as Orlando Harris, 19, a graduate of the school last year. He reportedly had no criminal record, and police have not revealed his motive.
Witnesses described the weapon as a long-barreled gun, which police on Tuesday described as an AR-15 style rifle. Police also said locked school doors slowed the gunman’s entry, but did not say how he managed to get inside.
“The security staff did an outstanding job identifying the suspect’s efforts to enter, and immediately notified other staff and ensured that we were contacted,” Police Commissioner Michael Sack told the media.
About 45 minutes after reporting the active shooter on Twitter just before 10 a.m., the St. Louis Police Metropolitan Police Department tweeted, “At this time, the scene is secure and there is no active threat.”
Math teacher David Williams told the media gunshots rang out shortly after 9 a.m. outside his classroom. He said “drill mode” kicked in, with lights off, doors locked and students and staff huddling in corners. Someone banged on and tried to open his door, Williams said, after which he heard a voice in the hall declare, “You are all going to [expletive] die!”
Williams said a bullet shot through one of his classroom’s windows. After more rapid gunfire, he said, a woman’s voice could be heard announcing the police department’s presence. He said they then bolted for the emergency exit.
Both the 400-student Central Visual and Performing Arts and the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience, which shares the building, were ultimately evacuated to safe sites.
The FBI’s St. Louis field office and Kansas City office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are helping local law enforcement in the investigation.
The St. Louis shooting comes on the same day Ethan Crumbley pleaded guilty to 24 counts in a mass shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan last Nov. 30, which killed four and injured seven. The 16-year-old pleaded guilty Monday to one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder and 19 other charges related to the shooting.