The gunman in the tragic shooting at St. Louis’ Central Visual & Performing Arts High School has been identified by authorities.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the gunman was 19-year-old Orlando Harris, who graduated from the school last year. A survivor said the shooter was “tired of everybody” in the school, but authorities are still trying to determine a motive. St. Louis Police Chief Michael Sack said, according to CBS News, "There's suspicions that there may be some mental illness that he's experiencing."
Police have not officially released the names of the victims. However, the Post-Dispatch confirmed one victim was Jean Kuczka, 61, a health and physical education teacher and a mother of five. The other victim was 16-year-old Alexandria Bell, who was pronounced dead inside the school. Four other students were injured due to gunfire. Two others suffered abrasions and a girl fractured her ankle.
Police say Harris, who had no prior criminal history, planned to kill more, but his gun jammed, which allowed children to escape. Harris was shot dead by police and was found with over a dozen 30-round high-capacity magazines on him.
The shooting was reported just after 9 a.m. Police say that there were seven security workers on site. It is unclear how the shooter got inside the building, even though the doors were reportedly locked. The building also has metal detectors.
The Associated Press reports algebra teacher Ashley Rench said the school principal came over the loudspeaker around 9 a.m. and said, "Miles Davis is in the building," which is the code phrase that indicates an intruder is in the building. Rench said students hid beneath her desk and podium as Harris tried to enter the classroom. He gave up when he couldn’t get through the locked door.
Another teacher, David Williams, said he heard multiple shots outside his classroom, and one of the windows on the classroom door was shot out. He then heard the shooter say, “You are all going to f***ing die.”
Officers arrived four minutes after the first 911 call, and it took them eight minutes to locate the shooter, according to reports. By 9:30 a.m., the area was blocked off by police, ambulances, and a SWAT van.
“The situation is still developing and we will know more in the coming days,” St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner said in a statement. “But one thing that is clear is that lockdown procedures – which St. Louis Public School’s administrators, teachers and students at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School and first responders followed as this attack unfolded – were essential in preventing further violence.”
Missouri gun laws are some of the most relaxed in the country. There’s no state law in Missouri that requires a license or a background check to buy or own a gun.
“After we noticed what was happening in other places, we should have been proactive, so we didn’t have to be reactive,” Democratic Missouri state Sen. Karla May, who represents part of St. Louis said in a statement, “Now we’re in a reactive state.”