ST. LOUIS – A gunman killed two people Monday morning in a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in south city, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said. When officers arrived, they shot and killed the gunman.
According to Interim St. Louis Police Chief Lieutenant Colonel Michael Sack, the shooting happened around 9:10 a.m. Officers arrived at the school, located at the corner of Kingshighway and Arsenal, just minutes later and immediately made entry into the building.
As kids were filing out of the school, students told officers the suspect was armed with a long gun. Sack said officers heard the gunfire and ran toward it. The officers found the shooter, and both sides exchanged gunfire.
The shooter was struck and taken to the hospital, where he later died. The shooter was later identified as 19-year-old Orlando Harris. No officers were injured in the confrontation, Sack said.
The motive for the shooting is unclear at this time, Sack said.
CVPA is the former Southwest High School. It is a magnet school with approximately 400 enrolled students, specializing in visual, musical, and performing arts.
Seven people were injured in this incident. One adult woman who was later pronounced dead at a hospital, as well as a teenage girl who was also shot and killed. The others injured suffered a variety of shrapnel and gunshot wounds. They are being treated at local hospitals.
One of the victims was identified as Jean Kuczka, a physical education teacher. The other victim’s name has not been released.
“This is a heartbreaking day for all of us. It’s going to be tough,” Sack said. “While on paper we might have nine victims, eight who were transported, one remained, we have hundreds of others. Everyone who survived here is going to take home trauma.”
The FBI said at 10:05 a.m. that “there is no longer an immediate threat at the high school.”
Officials did not detail how the shooter gained entry into the building.
SLPS Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Adams said there were seven active security staff at the school Monday, each of them stationed at a point of entry. One of the guards noticed the suspect attempting to get in through a locked door. The guard told school officials and made sure police were notified.
“The school was closed and the doors were locked,” Sack said. “The security staff did an outstanding job identifying the suspect’s efforts to enter and immediately notified other staff and ensured that we were contacted. It was that timely response by that security officer, the fact that the door did cause pause for the suspect, that bought us some time.”
In footage captured by FOX 2’s Bommarito Automotive Group SkyFOX helicopter, children and police could be seen running from the building. Officers were also seen helping students scale fences and buildings in order to escape. Officers had guns drawn at one point.
St. Louis Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Lori Willis said CVPA and Collegiate High School were on lockdown and students from both schools had been evacuated.
Students initially gathered at the Courtesy Diner on Kingshighway, but were then moved to a Schnucks parking lot on Arsenal Street. Parents have been told to go to Gateway STEM at 5101 McRee Avenue to reunite with their children.
The intersection of Kingshighway and Arsenal was temporarily shut down as a result. Crime tape has been put up in the area to block off the police investigation.
FOX 2 will continue to update this story with more information as it becomes available.