Relatives of the gunman who killed a student and teacher during a street attack. Louis The school shooting had always worried about his mental health and worked with the police to take a handgun from him – possibly the same one used in the attack, police Commissioner Michael Sack said Wednesday.
police and FBI She works out what drove 19-year-old Orlando Harris to make his way to Central High School for the Visual and Performing Arts on Monday and begin filming. Sack said the massacre could have been much worse. The gunman was armed with an AR-15 rifle and about 600 rounds of ammunition.
Fifteen-year-old Alexandrea Bell and 61-year-old teacher Jan Kochka died in the shooting. Four students sustained gunshots or grazing injuries, two of them bruised and one fractured ankle – apparently from jumping from the three-story building. Everyone is recovering, Sack said, as well as a police officer who sustained injuries from broken glass.
Police believe that Harris, who was killed by the responding officers, were intended targets. They did not say if any of the victims were among them.
Sack said Harris’ mother was “sad” about the shooting. Sack said in a press conference that she and other long-term relatives have dealt with Harris’ mental health issues and even made him stick to it on occasion. They also watched his mail and often checked his room to make sure he did not have a weapon.
At some point – Sack can’t remember when – they find one.
“They knew he had a firearm,” Sack said. “They worked with our management to pass that on to an adult who could legally own one.”
Sack said it may have been the gun used in the school shooting. The police were working to identify this, and determine how Harris obtained the gun.
Harris, in a letter he left behind, lamented that he had no friends, no family, no girlfriend and lived a solitary life. His memo called it “the perfect storm for a mass shooter.”
“Mental health is tough,” Sack said. “It’s hard to know when someone is going to be violent and behave inappropriately, or if they’re just suffering, they’re depressed, and they might hurt themselves.”
Central Visual and Performing Arts shares a building with another magnetic school, the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience, which was also vacated as the shooting began. Central has 383 students, Collegiate 336.
The building was closed Monday morning and an unarmed security guard saw Harris trying to enter. Sack declined to say how Harris broke in.
The officers arrived, some off duty, four minutes after the 911 call. Amid the chaos of fleeing children, teachers, and staff, the officers asked some of the whereabouts of the gunman. Eight minutes after he arrived, officers put Harris on the third floor, barricaded in a classroom. Police said in a news release that when Harris shot the officers, they returned fire and broke through the door.
When Harris aimed his rifle at the police, they fired several shots, killing him.
Alexzandria was found in the hallway and died at the scene. Kuczka was found in a classroom and died in hospital.
It was the 40th time a school shooting this year resulted in injuries or deaths, according to a count by Education Week — the most in any year since I began tracking the shootings in 2018. The shooting in St. Louis The first multiple fatalities since a gunman was shot. 19 children and two teachers were killed at Robb Primary School in Ovaldi, Texasin May, according to Education Week data.
As is common after school shootings, threats to other schools in the area have escalated since Monday, Jay Greenberg, the special agent in charge of the St. Louis FBI said. Greenberg said many schools across the area have responded by bringing in police officers for now.
“It adds to the trauma that all of our parents and students are experiencing,” Greenberg said.
Amidst the sadness, there was a glimmer of hope.
Fifteen-year-old Brian Collins is now home from the hospital, spared his life when a bullet missed his jaw in an artery.
Stephanie Malia Krause, Brian’s godmother and aunt, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was in the health class when the gunman broke into the room and killed Kochka. Despite his injury, Brian escaped by jumping out of a second floor window.
The bullet is still in his jaw. Krause said Brian faces another uncertainty.
Krause said Brian moved to Central earlier this fall because of his love of art — he specializes in charcoal pencil drawings with fine detail. He was shot in both hands while wearing splints from his fingers to the elbows.
“There’s no way of knowing the extent of the injuries until a follow-up appointment and the swelling goes down,” Cross said.