After a school shooting in St. Louis on Monday morning, police said three people had died, including the gunman, 19 years old.
Soon after 9 a.m., chaos ensued at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School when officials discovered a shooter with a long gun inside. A lockdown was imposed on the school and the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience, both located within the same building.
According to a St. Louis police official, the suspect died after a gunfight with authorities.
At a news conference in the evening, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Interim Chief Mike Sack identified him as a recent graduate of Central with no criminal record.
According to Sack, the gunman entered the school in a “violent, aggressive manner” with a rifle.
As he said, “there was no mystery as to what would happen.” A motive remained unclear; Sack said the apparent gunman may have been experiencing a mental illness.
As of now, Sack would not provide additional details, saying that investigators were still gathering data.
– People gather outside after a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis on Monday.
“While on paper we might have nine victims, eight who were transported and one remained, we have hundreds of others,” Sack said earlier. “Everyone who survived here is going to take home trauma.”
Abbey Kuczka, Jean Kuczka’s daughter, said her mother was killed at the high school.
“I found out just a few hours ago,” she said Monday afternoon.
Among her many activities, Jean Kuczka enjoyed riding bikes, raising money for juvenile diabetes, which her son has, and participating in annual charity events.
Teaching health, personal finance, and physical education at a high school is what Kuczka does now at St. Louis Public Schools.
In addition to Sack, another victim, a 16-year-old girl, was pronounced dead at the scene.
There were four victims who were injured who were under the age of 15, according to Sack. Three of them were 16 years old. According to Sack, the victims suffered gunshot wounds, fractured ankles, and facial abrasions.
‘I need to stay alive’
Following the shooting, harrowing stories of survival emerged, revealing how teachers and students escaped and the frightening moments inside the school.
The freshman, Adrienne Bolden, said that he and his classmates had to jump out of a window to escape.
Asking what his thoughts were at that point, he said that “I need to stay alive.”
As soon as Bolden heard sirens outside, he realized the shooting wasn’t an intruder drill.
“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.
Before jumping out of a classroom window overlooking concrete, Bolden helped his teacher move lockers.
“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.”
The visual arts teacher locked the classroom door and sent about 20 students into the closet after somebody announced a code word that indicated a threat inside the school, said Jawae Bronner, a freshman.
They were inside the space for approximately an hour and a half when the teacher announced that gunfire could be heard. He began looking for an exit – there was a window and a vent inside the closet – but then changed his mind.
The students were reading a Bible verse – John 3:16 – when Bronner texted his mother that he was OK.
“He knows to call on God when he’s in trouble,” said his mother, Jordette Barnes.
Doors were locked; unclear how gunman got in
Despite the school’s locked doors, the gunman was slowed down by them, Sack said. Neither he nor the police provided any explanation as to how the gunman found his way inside the school.
The school building was guarded by seven security guards, according to school officials.
As a result, the FBI and Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Bureau both responded. Please submit any photos or videos you have of the shooting to the FBI’s St. Louis field office.
-Emergency personnel at the scene of a school shooting in St. Louis.
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.”
The school district said: “Counselors are on site and will continue to avail themselves to students, staff, and families for as long as needed. Administrators and counselors are meeting with families.”
Student and family members were able to speak with Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo.
“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 don’t feel ready to leave yet.