NATIONAL NEWS

School gunman had AR-15-style weapon, 600 rounds of ammo

Oct 25, 2022, 1:31 PM
Eight minutes. That's the amount of time St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers needed to stop a gu...
Eight minutes. That's the amount of time St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers needed to stop a gunman inside Central Visual and Performing Arts High School on Monday. (KMOV via CNN)
(KMOV via CNN)

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

Orlando Harris also left behind a hand-written note offering his explanation for the shooting Monday at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. Tenth-grader Alexzandria Bell and 61-year-old physical education teacher Jean Kuczka died and seven students were wounded before 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, Harris called it the “perfect storm for a mass shooter.”

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

“This could have been much worse,” Sack said.

The attack forced students to barricade doors and huddle in classroom corners, jump from windows and run out of the building to seek safety. One terrorized girl said she was eye-to-eye with the shooter before his gun apparently jammed and she was able to run out. Several people inside the school said they heard Harris warn, “You are all going to die!”

Harris, 19, graduated from the school last year. The FBI was assisting police in the investigation. Sack, speaking at a news conference, urged people to come forward when someone who appears to suffer from mental illness or distress begins “speaking about purchasing firearms or causing harm to others.”

Relatives of those killed mourned their losses.

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

Alexzandria was outgoing, loved to dance and was a member of the school’s junior varsity dance team, her father said.

“She was the girl I loved to see and loved to hear from. No matter how I felt, I could always talk to her and it was alright. That 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 mom.”

The seven injured students are all 15 or 16 years old. All were listed in stable condition. Sack said four suffered gunshot or graze wounds, two had bruises and one had a broken ankle — apparently from jumping out of the three-story building.

The school in south St. Louis was locked, with seven security guards at the doors, St. Louis Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams said. A security guard initially became alarmed when he saw Harris trying to get in one of the doors. He was armed with a gun and “there was no mystery about what was going to happen. He had it out and entered in an aggressive, violent manner,” Sack said.

That guard alerted school officials and made sure police were contacted.

Harris managed to get inside anyway — Sack declined to say how, saying he didn’t want to “make it easy” for anyone else who wants to break into a school.

Police offered this timeline of events: A 911 call came in at 9:11 a.m. alerting police of an active shooter. Officers — some off-duty wearing street clothes — arrived at 9:15 a.m.

Police located Harris at 9:23 a.m. on the third floor of the school, where he had barricaded himself inside a classroom. Police said in a news release that when Harris shot at officers, they shot back and broke through the door.

At 9:25 a.m., when Harris pointed his rifle at police, they fired several shots. He was secured by police at 9:32 a.m.

Police said Alexzandria was found in a hallway and died at the scene. Kuczka was found in a classroom and died at a hospital.

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

It was the 40th school shooting this year resulting in injuries or death, according to a tally by Education Week — the most in any year since it began tracking shootings in 2018. The deadly attacks include the killings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in May, when 19 children and two teachers died. Monday’s St. Louis shooting came on 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.

For now, the survivors are dealing with the trauma.

The gunman pointed his weapon at Raymond Parks, a dance teacher at the school, but did not shoot him, Parks said. The kids in his class escaped outside and Parks stopped traffic and get someone to 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 sophomores when she heard a loud bang. Then the school intercom announced, “Miles Davis is in the building.”

“That’s our code for intruder,” Rench said.

The gunman tried the door of the classroom but did not force his way in, she said. When police officers started banging, she wasn’t sure at first if it really was law enforcement until she was able to glance out and see officers.

“Let’s go!” she told the kids.

___

Salter reported from O’Fallon, Missouri. Associated Press writers Margaret Stafford and Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Missouri, contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to show that Alexzandria Bell was 15, not 16 as police had previously stated. Police also corrected the spelling of her first name.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

R&B singer R. Kelly (L) arrives at the Cook County courthouse where jury selection is scheduled to ...
Claire Savage and Michael Tarm, Associated Press

Chicago prosecutor dropping R. Kelly sex-abuse charges

A Chicago prosecutor said Monday that she's dropping sex-abuse charges against singer R. Kelly following federal convictions in two courts that should guarantee the disgraced R&B star will be locked up for decades.
20 hours ago
The booking photo for Jami Farmer. (Lincoln County Sheriff’ Office)...
Michael Houck

Nevada attempted murder suspect arrested in Washington County

An attempted murder suspect from Nevada is in police custody after being found at a Utah gas station Monday.
20 hours ago
Amy Robach and TJ Holmes attend the 2022 ABC Disney Upfront at Basketball City - Pier 36 - South St...
Associated Press

TV anchors T.J. Holmes, Amy Robach leave ABC amid romance

T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach, anchors at the afternoon extension of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” are leaving the network.
20 hours ago
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 07:  A general view of the skyline of downtown Dallas, Texas as the American Airl...
KELSY MITTAUER

Arrest made in sex trafficking of teen girl who disappeared at Mavs game

Nine months after a Texas girl was sex trafficked after disappearing from a Mavericks game, an arrest has been made.
20 hours ago
Lisa Loring...
Toyin Owoseje and Amanda Watts, CNN

Lisa Loring, original Wednesday Addams actress, dead at 64

Lisa Loring, best known as the first actress to play Wednesday Addams in the original "The Addams Family" sitcom, has died at the age of 64.
20 hours ago
FILE - Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey gets ready to spin his popular "Wheel of Fugitive" in July...
Associated Press

Florida sheriff sued for ‘Wheel of Fugitive’ defamation

A man has filed a defamation lawsuit against a Florida sheriff who posts weekly “Wheel of Fugitive” videos on social media.
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
School gunman had AR-15-style weapon, 600 rounds of ammo