Home Correction journal The school shooter had an AR-15 type weapon, 600 rounds

The school shooter had an AR-15 type weapon, 600 rounds

0

By MICHAEL PHILLIS and JIM SALTER

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The 19-year-old shooter who killed a teacher and a 15-year-old girl at a St. Louis high school was armed with an AR-15 type rifle and what appeared to be more than 600 rounds of ammunition, Police Commissioner Michael Sack said Tuesday.

Orlando Harris also left a handwritten note explaining Monday’s shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. Tenth grade student Alexandria Bell and 61-year-old physical education teacher Jean Kuczka died and seven students were injured.

Police killed Harris in an exchange of gunfire.

Sack read Harris’ note in which the young man lamented that he had no friends, no family, no girlfriend and a life of isolation. In the note, he called it “the perfect storm for a mass shooter.”

Sack said Harris had ammunition strapped to his chest, some in a bag, and other magazines were found dumped in the stairwells.

The attack forced students to barricade doors and huddle in the corners of the classroom, jump out of windows and run out of the building for safety. A terrified girl said she was nose to nose with the shooter before her gun apparently jammed and she was able to get away. 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 in the investigation. Sack, speaking at a press conference, urged people to come forward when someone who appears to be suffering from mental illness or distress starts “talking about buying guns or hurting other”.

Relatives of those killed mourned their losses.

“Alexandria was everything to me,” her father, Andre Bell, told KSDK-TV. “She was joyful, wonderful and just a great person.”

Alexandria, a 10th grader, was outgoing, loved to dance, and was on the school’s junior varsity dance team.

“She was the girl I loved seeing and hearing about. No matter how I felt, I could always talk to her and it was fine. She was my baby,” Andre Bell said.

Abby Kuczka said her mother was killed when the gunman burst into her classroom and she moved between him and her students.

“My mom loved kids,” Abbey Kuczka told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “She loved her students. I know her students looked at her like she was their mother.

The seven injured students are all 15 or 16 years old. All were listed in stable condition. Sack said four people were shot or scratched, two had bruises and one had a broken ankle – apparently from jumping from the three-story building.

The South St. Louis school was locked down, with seven security guards near each door, St. Louis Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams said. A security guard was initially alarmed when he saw the shooter trying to enter through one of the doors. He was armed with a gun and “there was no mystery about what was going to happen. He took it out and came in aggressively and violently,” Sack said.

This guard alerted school officials and ensured that the police were contacted.

Harris still managed to get inside – Sack declined to say how, saying he didn’t want to “make it easy” for anyone wanting to break into a school.

Sack offered this timeline of events: A 911 call came in at 9:11 a.m. alerting police to an active shooter. Officers – some in full dress off duty – arrived at 9:15 a.m. Police located Harris at 9:23 a.m. and began shooting at him. Harris was shot at 9:25 a.m. He was secured by police at 9:32 a.m.

Harris was armed with nearly a dozen high-capacity 30-round magazines, Sack said.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Sack said.

Central Visual and Performing Arts shares a building with another magnet school, the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience. Central has 383 students, Collegiate 336.

Monday’s school shooting was the 40th this year resulting in injury or death, according to an Education Week tally – the highest number in any year since it began tracking shootings in 2018. Deadly attacks include the Robb Elementary School killings in Uvalde, Texas in May when 19 children and two teachers died. Monday’s shooting in St. Louis came the same day a Michigan teenager pleaded guilty to terrorism and first-degree murder in a school shooting that killed four students in December 2021.

Taniya Gholston said she was saved when the shooter’s gun jammed as he walked into her classroom. “All I heard was two shots and he came in with a gun,” the 16-year-old told the Post-Dispatch. “I was trying to run and I couldn’t run. He and I made eye contact, but I walked away because his gun jammed.

The shooter pointed his gun at Raymond Parks, a dance teacher at the school, but did not shoot him, Parks said. The children in his class escaped outside, and Parks tried to stop traffic and have someone call the police. They came quickly.

“You couldn’t have asked for better,” Parks said of the police response.

Ashley Rench said she was teaching advanced algebra to second graders when she heard a loud bang. Then the school intercom announced, “Miles Davis is in the building.

“This is our code for intruders,” Rench said.

The shooter attempted to open the classroom door but did not force entry, she said. When the police started knocking, she wasn’t sure at first if it was really law enforcement until she could peek around and see officers.

“Let’s go! she says to the children.

Kuczka, the slain teacher, taught health at Central for 14 years and recently started coaching cross country at Collegiate, her daughter said. “She was really looking forward to retirement. She was close,” Abbey Kuczka said.

Kuczka’s biography on the school’s website stated that she was married, a mother of five, and a grandmother of seven. She was an avid cyclist and was on a 1979 national championship field hockey team at what is now Missouri State University.

“I can’t imagine myself in any career other than teaching,” Kuczka wrote on the website. “In high school, I gave swimming lessons at the YMCA. From that moment I knew I wanted to be a teacher.

___

AP reporter Margaret Stafford in Liberty, Missouri, contributed to this report. Salter reported from O’Fallon, Missouri.

___

This story has been corrected to show that Alexandria Bell was 15, not 16 as police previously claimed.