As the 19-year-old gunman walked through the hallways of St.
Some heard gunshots – and others tried to open the door, they recalled.
People jump from windows.
Monday’s attack at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School – at least the 67th shooting on US school grounds this year – will leave two dead: student Alexandria Bell, 15, and her teacher Jean Kuczka, 61. Other students will be injured.
And after the gun battle with the officer, yet another American school shooter will also die – this time the latest graduate identified as Orlando Harris who arrived on campus with an extensive arsenal and handwritten notes, said St.
Like many stories of murder in a place meant for learning and friendship, the school day has started like any other.
But then, the voice of the assistant principal came over the intercom with a familiar signal for children living with such threats, Alex Macias told CNN affiliate KSDK.
“Miles Davis is in the building.”
That signal is only heard during active shooter training.
Soon, Alex and her classmates — in class with her health teacher — heard gunshots, she said.
The teacher locked the classroom door.
But the gunman managed to “shoot his way.”
“He shot Mrs. Kuczka, and I just closed my eyes,” Alex said. “I didn’t want to see anything else. But then when I thought he was about to leave, I opened my eyes to see him standing there making eye contact with me.
“And after he made eye contact, he left.”
Teacher Kristie Faulstich, too, had heard the active shooter alert phrase over the intercom, she recalled.
In one minute of locking the second class door, someone has started “violently jostling the handle, trying to get in,” she said.
After the shooter burst into Kuczka’s room, students began jumping out of windows, Alex said.
Among them is 15-year-old Brian Collins, a sophomore who goes to the school to study visual arts, said his mother VonDina Washington.
Now, with a shot going off, Brian ran off the ledge.
School of Arts Dean Manfret McGhee ran for his life after a bullet missed him in the hallway, he told KSDK.
He hid in the bathroom, not knowing that his own 16-year-old son had been shot.
Soon, he ran to his son’s health class.
“When I first saw him, I saw a big hole in his pant leg, and all I could think was, ‘Oh my God, what did he shoot?'” he said.
McGhee used his belt to stop the bleeding.
After the shooting, FBI investigators found a handwritten note in the car Harris drove to school.
“I have no friends. I don’t have a family. I have never had a boyfriend. I never had a social life. I’ve been an isolated loner all my life,” said St. Louis Police Commissioner Michael Sack.
“It’s a perfect storm for mass shooters,” he said.
The gunman had his firearm in the open when he arrived at the school and was wearing a chest rig with seven magazines of ammunition, the commissioner said. He also carried more ammunition in a bag and threw extra magazines on the stairs and corridors along the way.
“It doesn’t take long to burn through a magazine when you’re looking down a long corridor or going up or down the stairs or to class,” Sack said. “This could have been a horrific scene. It wasn’t by the grace of God and the officers were close to them and responded the way they did.
The police commissioner has called for quick police response, locked doors and earlier training to prevent more deaths.
The call about an active shooter at the high school came in around 9:11 a.m., and officers made entry four minutes later, according to Sack. Several off-duty officers who were nearby attending a funeral for a fellow officer also responded to the scene.
By 9:23 am, officers have found the gunman and “involve him in a gunfight”.
Two minutes later, the officer reported the suspect down.
Seven security personnel were also in the school when the gunman arrived, but the shooter did not enter through a checkpoint where security guards were stationed, said DeAndre Davis, director of safety and security for St.
Security guards stationed at district schools are not armed, but car officers who respond to calls at schools are, Davis said.
The doors were locked, and it remains unclear how the shooter got in, authorities said.
Sack has declined to provide those details, saying, “I don’t want to make this easy for anybody.”
When asked if it would have made a difference if the first person to confront the shooter had a gun, Board of Education President Matt Davis said, “The shooter had a powerful gun. So he was able to force himself into the building safely. The building was riddled with bullets.”
“I don’t know how much firepower it takes to stop that person. You see the police response, it’s massive. It’s incredible,” he added. “… I know what would be different is if these high-powered guns weren’t available to people this. It will make a difference. ”
Such shootings should not be normalized, Davis said.
“The fact that it takes this level of response to stop a shooting like this because people have access to these weapons of war and can bring them into our schools will never be normal,” Davis said.
“This is our worst nightmare. … And it can’t happen again.”
The Saint Louis Public School District is planning to add gun safety to its curriculum, said Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams.
“Not just reading, writing, and arithmetic, but reading, writing, arithmetic and gun safety. It’s kind of a weird curriculum alignment if you will,” he said.
Helping students understand how dangerous guns are will help them at school, in their neighborhoods, “frankly, everywhere right now,” Adams added.