As a 19-year-old gunman walked through the St. Louis High School hallways with an AR-15 rifle and more than 600 rounds, frightened students and teachers locked classroom doors and huddled in corners.
Some heard gunshots – and someone trying to open the doors, they recall.
People jumped out of windows.
Monday’s attack at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School – at least the 67th shooting on the grounds of a US school this year – would kill two: student Alexandria Bell, 15, and teacher Jean Kuczka, 61 years old. Other students would be injured.
And after a shootout with officers, another American school shooter is also believed to be dead — this time a recent graduate identified as Orlando Harris who arrived on campus with an extensive arsenal and a handwritten note, St. Louis.
Like so many tales of carnage in places meant for learning and friendship, the school day had started out like any other.
But then the vice principal’s voice came over the intercom with a signal familiar to children who live with that kind of threat, Alex Macias said. Affiliated with CNN KSDK.
“Miles Davis is in the building.”
It was a signal heard only during active firing exercises.
Soon, Alex and her classmates — in class with her health teacher — heard the gunshots, she said.
The teacher locked the classroom door.
But the shooter managed to “find his way”.
“He shot Ms. Kuczka, and I just closed my eyes,” Alex said. “I really didn’t want to see anything else. But then, just as I thought he was leaving, I opened my eyes to see him standing there, making eye contact with me.
“And then after making eye contact, he just walked away.”
Teacher Kristie Faulstich had also heard the active shooter alert phrase on the intercom, she recalled.
Within a minute of locking the door to her classroom on the second floor, someone had started “shoving the handle violently, trying to get in”, she said.
After the shooter broke into Kuczka’s room, students started jumping out of the windows, Alex recalled.
Among them was 15-year-old Brian Collins, a sophomore who went to school to study visual arts, his mother VonDina Washington said.
Now, with resounding gunshots, Brian escaped onto a ledge.
School arts dean Manfret McGhee ran for his life after a bullet missed him in a hallway, he said SDKs.
He hid in a bathroom, unaware that his own 16-year-old son had been shot.
Soon he ran over to his son’s health.
“When I first saw him, I saw a huge hole in his trouser leg, and all I could think of was, ‘God, what did he get shot with? ? “, Did he declare.
McGhee used his belt to stop the bleeding.
After the shooting, FBI investigators found a handwritten note in the car Harris drove to school.
” I have no friends. I have no family. I never had a girlfriend. I never had a social life. I’ve been a lone loner all my life,” the memo reads, said St. Louis Police Commissioner Michael Sack.
“It was the perfect storm for a mass shooter,” he said.
The shooter had his firearm in the open when he arrived at school and was carrying a chest rig with seven rounds of ammunition, the commissioner said. He also carried more ammo in a bag and threw extra magazines down the stairs and into the hallways along the way.
“It doesn’t take long to flip through a magazine as you look down a long hallway or up or down a stairwell or into a classroom,” Sack said. “It could have been a horrible scene. It was not by the grace of God and that the officers were as close as they were and responded as they did.
The police commissioner has credited a quick police response, locked doors and advance training to prevent more deaths.
A call about an active shooter at the high school came around 9:11 a.m. and officers entered four minutes later, according to Sack. Some off-duty officers attending a fellow officer’s funeral nearby also responded to the scene.
By 9:23 a.m., officers had found the shooter and were “engaging him in a shootout.”
Two minutes later, officers reported the suspect down.
Seven security personnel were also at the school when the shooter arrived, but the shooter did not enter through a checkpoint where security guards were posted, said DeAndre Davis, director of security and of St. Louis Public Schools Safety.
Security guards stationed at schools in the district are unarmed, but mobile officers responding to calls at schools are, Davis said.
The doors were locked and it is still unclear how the shooter got in, authorities said.
Sack declined to provide those details, stating, “I don’t want to make it easy for anyone else.”
When asked if it would have made a difference if the first person to confront the shooter had a gun, Board of Education Chairman Matt Davis said: ‘The mugger had a high powered gun. So much so that he was able to break into a secure building. The building is riddled with bullets.
“I don’t know what firepower it would take to stop that person. You saw the police response, it was massive. It was overwhelming,” he added. “…I know what would have been different is if that high-powered rifle was not available to that individual. It would have made the difference.”
Such shootings should not be normalized, Davis said.
“The fact that it takes this level of response to stop a shooting like this because people have access to these weapons of war and can bring them into our schools can never be normal,” Davis said.
“It’s our worst nightmare. … And it can’t happen again.
The Saint Louis Public Schools District plans to add gun safety to its curriculum, Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams said.
“Not just reading, writing, and arithmetic, but reading, writing, arithmetic, and gun safety. It’s a weird kind of program alignment if you will,” a he declared.
Helping students understand how dangerous guns are will help keep them safe at school, in their neighborhood, “quite frankly, everywhere now,” Adams added.