Three dead, including gunman, after shooting at St. Louis high school, officials say
Three people are dead, including a 19-year-old gunman, after a shooting at a St. Louis high school Monday morning that also sent multiple people to hospitals, police said.
Chaos unfolded shortly after 9 a.m. when authorities learned of a shooter with a long gun inside Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. The school and the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience, which is in the same building, were locked down.
After a gunfight with authorities, the suspected shooter was taken into custody and later pronounced dead, an official with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department told reporters.
He was identified as a recent graduate from Central with no prior criminal history, chief Mike Sack told reporters at an evening news conference.
Sack said the gunman entered the school with a rifle in an “aggressive manner.”
“There was no mystery about what was going to happen,” he said.
“While on paper we might have nine victims, eight who were transported and one remained, we have hundreds of others,” Police Commissioner Lt. Col. Mike Sack said earlier. “Everyone who survived here is going to take home trauma.”
Jean Kuczka, a health teacher at the high school was killed, her daughter, Abbey Kuczka, said.
“I found out just a few hours ago,” she said Monday afternoon.
The teacher was a mother of five, a grandmother of seven and bike rider who participated in an annual charity event to raise money for juvenile diabetes, a disease her son has, according to her profile on the high school’s website.
Kuczka began working at St. Louis Public Schools in 2002 at Carr Lane Visual Performing Arts Middle School before transferring to the high school in 2008 to teach health, personal finance and physical education.
Sack identified the other fatally wounded victim as a 16-year-old girl who was pronounced dead at the scene.
Four of the victims who were injured in the shooting were 15, Sack said. Three others were 16. They suffered injuries ranging from gunshot wounds to a fractured ankle and facial abrasions, Sack said.
‘I need to stay alive’
Shortly after the shooting, harrowing stories of survival started to emerge, offering a glimpse of the frightening moments inside the school and the lengths some teachers and students went through to escape.
Adrienne Bolden, a freshman at high school, said he and his classmates had to jump out of a window to escape the gunman.
When asked what was going through his mind at that point, he said, “that I need to stay alive.”
Bolden said he initially thought the shooting was an intruder drill, but that changed when he started hearing sirens outside.
“The teacher, she crawled over and she was asking for help to move the lockers to the door so they can’t get in,” he said.
Bolden helped his teacher move the lockers before trying to jump out of a classroom window that had concrete at the bottom of it.
“So, we had to wait a little longer before the assistant principal came up to one of the windows that was locked, and when we opened it the teacher said to come on and we all had to jump out of the window.”
Freshman Jawae Bronner said that after someone announced a codeword indicating a threat inside the school, his visual arts teacher immediately locked the classroom door and ushered about 20 students into a closet.
At one point, during the roughly hour and a half they were inside the space, the teacher announced that he could hear gunfire, Bronner said. The student said he searched for exits — there was a window and a vent inside the closet — but then reconsidered.
Bronner texted his mother, telling her where he was, what was happening and that he was OK, and he read a Bible verse — John 3:16 — to his class.
“He knows to call on God when he’s in trouble,” said his mother, Jordette Barnes.
Doors were locked; unclear how gunman got in school
Sack said that the doors at the school were locked, which slowed the gunman to pause. He did not clarify how the gunman was able to get into the school.
Seven security guards were in the school building at the time of the shooting, according to school officials.
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded to the scene.
The FBI’s St. Louis field office is asking anyone with pictures or videos of the shooting to submit them to authorities.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones called the shooting “a devastating and traumatic situation.”
“I’m heartbroken for these families who send their children to our schools hoping that they will be safe,” she said at the news conference. “Our children shouldn’t have to experience this, they shouldn’t have to go through active shooter drills in case something happens. And unfortunately, that happened today.”
“Counselors are on site and will continue to avail themselves to students, staff and families for as long as needed,” the district said. “Administrators and counselors are meeting with families.”
U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., was also at the school talking to students and their families.
“We’ve been going from family to family talking with the students,” Bush, whose district includes St. Louis, told NBC affiliate KSDK. “Some of the students are still here because they just they don’t feel ready to leave yet.”
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com