Police in St. Louis released new details Tuesday about the shooting at a high school that left a teacher and student dead and seven others injured.
Officials and family members identified the victims as 61-year-old Barbara Kuczka and 15-year-old Alexzandria Bell.
The 19-year-old gunman, who was killed by police within minutes of the first 911 call, used an AR-15-style weapon and had more than 600 rounds of ammunition during the shooting Monday at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, Metropolitan Police Department Commissioner Mike Sack said at a press conference Tuesday. The gunman also left behind a handwritten note, Sack said.
More than 100 people gathered at a vigil Monday night to honor the victims and share a range of emotions including “frustration, anger, grief,” St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said at the press conference.
“I know that tragic incidents like this traumatize our children, teachers and the larger community,” Jones said. “The scourge of gun violence that continues to plague the lives of our children and families in their communities is a national emergency. It’s a public health crisis that requires federal action.”
PREVIOUS REPORTS:2 killed, 7 injured in shooting at St. Louis high school
Who are the victims?
Eight people, including the gunman, were hospitalized. Kuczka died at a hospital; Bell died at the school. The gunman also died at a hospital.
Andre Bell told St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KSDK-TV that his daughter, who was killed in the shooting, was a 10th grade student and a member of the school’s junior varsity dance team. Kuczka, who taught at Central for 14 years, was killed when the gunman burst into her classroom, Kuczka’s daughter Abigail told the Post-Dispatch.
Seven other people, including male and female students ages 15 and 16, were in stable condition and had injuries ranging from a broken ankle to shrapnel and gunshot wounds.
“This is a heartbreaking day for all of us,” Sack said.
Who was the gunman?
The assailant was identified as Orlando Harris, 19. He was fatally shot by police, officials said.
Harris graduated from school last year and had no prior criminal history, Sack said. Harris had an AR-15-style rifle and what appeared to be more than 600 rounds of ammunition strapped to his chest, in a bag and dumped in stairwells, Sack said Tuesday.
Investigators are trying to determine a motive. Sack said Harris left a handwritten note offering an explanation for the shooting and describing a life of isolation he called the “perfect storm for a mass shooter.”
How did the shooter get into the building?
Law enforcement officials provided few details about how the gunman got into the school, which Sack said has metal detectors and locked doors.
Sack said the gunman entered the building “in an aggressive, violent manner” with his firearm out. Sack declined to provide additional information Monday evening, citing safety concerns.
“You can understand that we want to try and make schools a hard target,” he said.
Law enforcement response to shooting
Police received a report of an active shooter at 9:11 am local time, Sack said. Four minutes later, officers arrived and “immediately” entered the school, ran to the sound of shots and exchanged gunfire with the shooter, he said.
According to the timeline provided by law enforcement officials, officers shot the gunman less than 15 minutes after the initial report. No officers were injured.
Where did the shooting occur?
The shooting occurred at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, a magnet school with 400 students, according to the school’s website.
About 700 students at the school and adjoining Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience were impacted by the incident, St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams said.
The shooting is the 257th incident of gunfire on school grounds this calendar year, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database. After school shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and in Washington, DC, this is the third active shooter situation on school grounds this year.
Hundreds gather at vigil
Hours after the shooting, the grieving community gathered to mourn and demand change.
With candles in hand, hundreds of parents, teachers, students and community members gathered at a vigil Monday at St. Louis’s Tower Grove Park to remember a teacher and student killed in the shooting.
Dylan Fritz, a senior at the adjoining Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience who attended the vigil, told St. Louis Public Radio he hid in a corner as he heard screams down the hallway.
“I’m a student,” he said. “I wanted to go to school today and learn. I was there to learn. I was not there to hide in a corner. Guns do not belong in schools.”
Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.
Contributing: The Associated Press