ST. LOUIS (AP) — A gunman broke into a St. Louis high school Monday morning, killing a woman and a teenage girl and injuring six others before police killed him in a gunfight.
The shooting just after 9 a.m. at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School forced students to barricade doors and huddle in the corners of the classroom, jump out of windows and run out of the building to to shelter. A terrified girl said she was nose to nose with the shooter before her gun apparently jammed and she was able to get away.
Others inside the school said they heard the gunman say, “You are all going to die. The city’s police chief said the quick actions of a security guard and officers who ‘ran into the shots’ helped end the shooting before more people were killed or injured.
Speaking at a press conference, Chief Constable Michael Sack said the shooter was around 20 but did not provide a name for him or his victims. He declined to say whether the woman killed was a teacher.
St. Louis Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams said seven security guards were in the school at the time, each at an entry point to the locked building. One of the guards noticed that the man tried to enter through a locked door, but was unable to do so. The guard informed school officials and made sure the police were contacted, Sack said.
“It was that quick response from that security guard, the fact that the door caused the suspect to pause, that bought us time,” Sack said.
He declined to say how the man finally got inside, armed with what he described as a long gun. Central Visual and Performing Arts shares a building with another magnet school, the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience, which was also evacuated. Central has 383 students, Collegiate 336.
Officers worked to get the students out of the three-story brick building, then “ran to this gunshot, located this shooter and engaged this shooter in a firefight,” killing him, said Sack.
Monday’s school shooting was the 40th this year resulting in injury or death, according to an Education Week tally – the highest number in a single year since it began tracking shootings in 2018. These include the murders at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas in May when 19 children and two teachers died. Monday’s shooting in St. Louis occurred the same day as a Michigan teenager pleads guilty to terrorism and first-degree murder in a school shooting that killed four students in December 2021.
Some of the six people hospitalized suffered gunshot wounds, while others were hit by shrapnel, Sack said. He did not provide any information about their conditions.
A student, Taniya Gholston, 16, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she was in a room when the shooter entered.
“All I heard was two shots and he came in with a gun,” Gholston said. “And I was trying to run and I couldn’t run. He and I made eye contact but I did because his gun jammed. But we saw blood on the floor.
Ninth-grade student Nylah Jones told the Post-Dispatch she was in math class when the shooter fired into the room from the hallway. The shooter was unable to enter the room and knocked on the door as students piled into a corner, she said.
Janay Douglas’ 15-year-old daughter got stuck in a hallway when school was closed. Douglas said he received a call from his daughter informing her that she had heard gunshots.
“A friend of hers came through the door, he was shot in the hand, and then she and her friends started running. The phone disconnected,” Douglas said. “I was on my way.”
The shooting rocked St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones.
“Our kids shouldn’t have to go through this,” Jones said at the press conference. “They shouldn’t have to go through active fire drills in case something happens. And unfortunately, it happened today.
The school district placed all of its schools on lockdown for the rest of the day and canceled all extracurricular activities, including sports.
Central Visual and Performing Arts High School is a magnetic school specializing in the visual, musical and performing arts. The district’s website states, “The school’s educational program is designed to create a nurturing environment where students receive a quality academic and arts education that prepares them for success in post-secondary education or to perform competently in the world of work”.