The 19-year-old shooter who killed two people and injured several others at his old high school left a note saying his struggles led to “the perfect storm for a mass shooter,” St. Louis police said.
Orlando Harris graduated from Central Visual and Performing Arts High School last year and returned on Monday with an AR-15 rifle, more than 600 rounds and more than a dozen high-capacity magazines, the commissioner said. St. Louis Police Department, Michael Sack.
Harris died in a hospital after a shootout with officers.
Investigators found a handwritten note in the car Harris drove to school. Sack detailed some of the passages:
” I have no friends. I have no family. I never had a girlfriend. I never had a social life. I’ve been a lonely loner all my life,” the note read, according to Sack. “It was the perfect storm for a mass shooter.”
Given the shooter’s extensive arsenal, the tragedy could have been “much worse”, the police chief said.
Authorities credited locked doors and a quick police response – including by off-duty officers – with averting more deaths at the school.
But the shooter did not enter a checkpoint where security guards were stationed, said DeAndre Davis, director of safety and security at St. Louis Public Schools.
Davis also said security guards stationed at schools in the district are unarmed, but mobile officers responding to calls at schools are.
“For some people it would cause some turmoil,” Davis said Tuesday. “For us, we thought it was better for our officers, for the normality of the school for the children, not to have armed officers in the school.”
Student Alexandria Bell, 15, and teacher Jean Kuczka, 61, were shot in the attack.
One of the teacher’s colleagues, Kristie Faulstich, said Kuczka died protecting her students.
During the rush to evacuate the students from the school, “A student looked at me and said, ‘They shot Ms. Kuczka.’ And then she said Ms. Kuczka got between the shooter and the students,” Faulstich said.
Kuczka was looking forward to retirement in a few years, his daughter Abigail Kuczka told CNN.
Alexandria was looking forward to her Sweet 16, her father Andre Bell says Affiliated with CNN KSDK.
“It’s a nightmare,” Bell said. “I am so upset. I need someone – the police, people in the community, someone – to make this meaningful.
He joins a growing list of parents grappling with the reality of their child dying at school.
Across the country, at least 67 shootings have taken place on school grounds so far this year.
As the shooting unfolded in St. Louis, a Michigan prosecutor who just heard the guilty plea for teenager who killed four students last fall, she said she was no longer shocked to learn that another shooting had taken place at a school. “It doesn’t surprise me that there’s another shooting at a school, which is horrific,” Oakland County District Attorney Karen McDonald said.
“We need to keep the public and educate the public… about how we can prevent gun violence. It’s avoidableand we should never allow it to be something we just have to live with.
It is unclear how the shooter gained access to the school. Authorities said the doors were locked.
The police commissioner declined to detail how the shooter got in. “I don’t want to make it easy for anyone else,” Sack said.
The shooter did not conceal his weapon upon entering the school, Sack said.
“When he came in, it was out…there was no mystery about what was going to happen,” the commissioner said. “He took it out and came in aggressively and violently.”
Adrianne Bolden, a freshman at the school, said SDKs that the students thought it was a drill until they heard the sirens and saw that their teachers were scared.
“The teacher, she crawled out and she was asking for help moving the lockers to the door so they couldn’t get in,” Bolden said. “And we started hearing glass breaking from outside and gunshots outside the door.”
Adrianne told KSDK that the class stayed put until the students saw their vice principal approaching one of the locked classroom windows. “We opened it, the teacher said come over, and we all had to jump out the window,” Bolden recalled.
Math teacher David Williams told CNN everyone had gone into “exercise mode”, turning off lights, locking doors and huddled in corners so they wouldn’t be seen.
He said he heard someone trying to open the door and a man shouting, “You’re all going to die.”
Shortly after, a bullet went through one of the windows in her classroom, Williams said.
Williams’ classroom is on the third floor, where Sack said police hired the shooter.
Eventually an officer said she was outside and the class ran out through the nearby fire doors.
Security personnel were at the school when the shooter arrived, St. Louis Public Schools communications director George Sells said.
“We had all seven staff working in the building who did a terrific job of sounding the alarm quickly,” Sells said.
Sack said he didn’t know if the school security guards had guns.
“Not all public security guards are armed,” the police commissioner said.
He said the school’s locked doors likely delayed the shooter.
“The school was closed and the doors locked,” Sack said. Affiliated with CNN KMOV. “Security staff did an outstanding job identifying the suspect’s efforts to gain entry, and immediately notified other staff and ensured we were contacted.”
After widespread controversy over the late response to school shooters Uvalde, Texas, and Park, Florida, Sack said responding officers in St. Louis wasted no time in rushing into the school and arresting the shooter.
“There was no sidewalk conference. There was no discussion,” Sack said. “There was no, ‘Hey, where are you going?’ They just walked in.
A call about an active shooter at the high school came in around 9:11 a.m., according to a schedule provided by the commissioner.
Police arrived at the scene and entered four minutes later at 9:15 a.m.
Officers found the shooter and began “engaging him in a shootout” at 9:23 a.m. Two minutes later, officers reported the suspect down.
Asked about the eight minutes between officers’ arrival and contact with the shooter, Sack said that “eight minutes is not very long”, and that officers had to maneuver through a large school with little entrances and crowds of students and staff evacuating. .
Police found the suspect “not only by hearing the gunshots, but by talking to the children and teachers as they left,” Sack said.
As phone calls came in from people hiding in different locations, officers fanned out and searched for students and staff to escort them out of the building.
Officers who were at a church down the street for the funeral of a fellow officer also responded to the shooting, the commissioner said.
A SWAT team that was together for a training exercise was also able to quickly load up and get to the school to perform a secondary sweep of the building, Sack said.
Some officers were “off duty; some were wearing T-shirts, but they had their (ballistic) vests on,” the commissioner said. “They did an outstanding job.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong age for 15-year-old Alexandria Bell, who was killed in the shooting.