The St. Louis school shooter was armed with an AR-15 type rifle and more than 600 rounds, officials say

The 19-year-old shooter who killed two people in a high school in Saint-Louis Monday was armed with an AR-15 type rifle and more than 600 rounds, and left behind a note referring to mass shootings, police said.

St. Louis police on Tuesday showed an image of the rifle used by Orlando Harris, who died after exchanging gunfire with authorities.

“He had seven rounds of ammunition on a chest rig that he was carrying, he also had eight additional rounds of ammunition in a field bag that he had been carrying,” the St. Louis, Mike Sack. “That doesn’t include the number of magazines he left and threw down the stairs in the hallways along the way.”

Sack said the shooting could have been worse if officers hadn’t arrived at the school as quickly as they did.

“It could have been a horrible scene,” he said. “It was not by the grace of God and that the officers were as close as they were and responded the way they did.”

Sack did not elaborate on how the shooter gained access to the weapon, but stressed the importance of checking with those in distress.

“If you know someone who appears to be suffering from some sort of mental illness or distress, and they start talking about buying guns or causing harm to others, we encourage you to reach out to someone and report it so we can get help for that person,” he said.

Harris also left a handwritten note in the car he drove to school, police say.

Sack read part of the memo at the press conference, in which Harris describes himself as a loner and refers to mass shootings.

“So reading this, we got to see some of what’s going on in his mind,” Sack said. “He feels isolated, he feels lonely, most likely angry and resentful of others who have what he felt were healthy relationships and therefore wanted to lash out.”

Image:
People gather outside after a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis on Monday. Jordan Opp / St. Louis Post-Shipping via AP
Marie Crane, center, holds a candle during a vigil for victims of a school shooting at Central Visual & Performing Arts High School in St. Louis on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022.
A vigil for victims of a school shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis on Monday. David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

Harris walked into Central Visual Performing Arts High School on Monday morning around 9 a.m. with what police said was a long gun.

After a shootout with authorities minutes later, the shooter was arrested and later pronounced dead, a St. Louis police official told reporters.

Jean Kuczka, a 61-year-old health teacher, and Alexandria Bell, a 15-year-old student, were killed in the shooting, officials said.

Kuczka was a mother of five, a grandmother of seven and a cyclist who participated in an annual charity event to raise money for childhood diabetes, which her son has, according to her profile on the high school website.

She began working for St. Louis Public Schools in 2002 at Carr Lane Visual Performing Arts Middle School before transferring to high school in 2008 to teach health, personal finance, and physical education.

Andre Bell, Alexandria’s adoptive father who lives in Los Angeles, called her loss a “nightmare”. NBC Affiliate KSDK reported.

The 15-year-old second had an outgoing personality and was a member of her high school’s junior varsity dance team, Bell told the news station.

“She was joyful, wonderful and just a great person,” he told KSDK. “She was the girl I loved seeing and hearing about. No matter how I felt, I could always talk to her and it was okay. She was my baby.

A GoFundMe set up to help Alexandria’s family with funeral costs describes her as “beautiful, talented and charismatic”.

Sack was unable to provide an update on the multiple other victims injured in the shooting, saying he was not aware of any of them having been released from hospital since their admission. They were all aged 15 and 16 and suffered injuries ranging from gunshot wounds to a fractured ankle and facial abrasions, he said on Monday.

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