st. LOUIS (AP) — The 19-year-old gunman who murdered a teacher and his 15-year-old girl at a St. Louis high school was armed with an AR-15 style rifle and what he believed to be over 600 rounds of ammunition. said Police Commissioner Michael Sack on Tuesday.
Orlando Harris also left a handwritten note describing the shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School on Monday. Police killed Harris in a shootout after Jean Kuczka of school was killed and seven students were injured.
Sack reads Harris’ notes and laments that Harris lives a lonely life with no friends, no family, no girlfriend. In a note, Harris called it “the perfect storm for mass shooters.”
Sack said Harris had ammunition strapped to his chest, some in a bag, and others dumped in the stairwell.
“This could have been worse,” Sack said.
The attack prompted students to barricade doors, huddle in corners of classrooms, jump from windows, and flee buildings to seek safety. One terrified girl said she made eye contact with the shooter before her gun apparently got stuck. Several people inside the school said they heard Harris warn, “You’re all going to die!”
Harris, 19, graduated from school last year. The FBI was assisting the police investigation.Sack said at a press conference that a person who appeared to be suffering from mental illness or distress began “talking about buying firearms and harming others”. I urged people to come forward.
Relatives of those killed mourned their loss.
“Alex Zandria was my everything,” her father, Andre Bell, told KSDK-TV.
Alex Zandria was sociable, loved to dance, and was a member of the school’s junior varsity dance team.
“She was the girl I loved to see and love to hear about. No matter how I felt, I could always talk to her and it was okay. It was my baby,” Andre said. Bell said
Abby Kuczka said her mother died when the shooter burst into the classroom, and she moved between him and the students.
“My mother loved children,” Abby Kuchka told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “She loved her students. Her students treated her like she was a mother.” I know you are watching.”
All seven injured students are 15 or 16 years old. All listed as stable. Sack said four had bullet wounds and abrasions, two had bruises and one had a broken ankle.
The school in south St. Louis was locked and had seven guards at the door, said Kelvin Adams, superintendent of schools in St. Louis. Security guards were initially alarmed when they saw Harris about to enter one of the doors. He was armed with a gun and “there was no mystery about what would happen. He had it and participated in an aggressive and violent way,” Sack said.
The security guard alerted school officials and confirmed that police had been contacted.
Harris managed to get inside anyway — Sack refused to say how, saying he “didn’t want it easy” for someone else who wanted to break into the school.
Police provided a timeline of the events: At 9:11 a.m., a 911 call was made, alerting police to the presence of the shooter.Police officers — some off-duty in plain clothes — arrived at 9:15 a.m.
At 9:23 a.m., police found Harris on the third floor of the school, where he had barricaded himself in a classroom. Police said in a news release that when Harris shot the officers, they shot back and broke down the door.
At 9:25 a.m., Harris pointed his rifle at the police, who fired several shots.He was taken into police custody at 9:32 a.m.
Alex Zandria was found in the hallway and died at the scene, police said. Kuchka was found in a classroom and died in hospital.
The Central Visual and Performing Arts shares a building with another magnet school, the Collegiate School of Medicine and Biosciences. There are 383 students in Central and 336 in College Eight.
There have been 40 school shootings this year, with injuries and deaths, according to Education Week’s tally. It’s the most in any year since we started tracking shootings in 2018. In May, 19 children and his two teachers died. Monday’s shooting in St. Louis, the school shooting that killed four of his students in December 2021, and her teens in Michigan have been linked to acts of terrorism and first-degree murder. It happened on the same day that I admitted my guilt.
For now, survivors are dealing with trauma.
The shooter aimed his weapon at the school’s dance teacher, Raymond Parks, but didn’t shoot him, Parks said. I was called. they came quickly.
“I couldn’t ask for more,” Parks said of the police response.
Ashley Rench said she heard a loud noise while teaching advanced algebra to second graders. The school intercom then announced, “Miles Davis is in the building.”
“That’s our code against intruders,” Wrench said.
She said the shooter tried to open the classroom door but didn’t force his way in. When the police started banging, she wasn’t sure it was really law enforcement until she saw them.
“Let’s go!” she said to the children.
Salter reported from O’Fallon, Missouri. AP writers Margaret Stafford and Heather Hollingsworth of Kansas City, Missouri, contributed to this report.
This story was modified to show that Alexandria Bell was 15 years old, rather than the 16 years old police had previously stated. Police also corrected the spelling of her first name.