ST. LOUIS – The gunman’s family is “heartbroken” over what unfolded in Monday’s shooting at a south St. Louis school and is being “fully cooperative” with the investigation, police say.
A 19-year-old gunman, Orlando Harris, killed two people Monday morning in a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. Police later shot and killed Harris, who hurt several others in the incident.
“She is heartbroken for the families of the victims and the school,” said St. Louis interim police chief Michael Sack in a news conference Wednesday.
Sack, joined by other city officials for updates Wednesday, noted that Harris’ mother was aware of his mental health struggles and tried to help him work through it.
“They always tried to work to get him back on medication, therapy or whatever needed,” said Sack.
Investigators say Harris entered with an AR-15 rifle and more than 600 rounds of ammunition. While the exact motive has not yet been determined, police presented some documents Tuesday, including a handwritten note in a car tied to the gunman, that may have hinted toward mental health struggles.
Near the end of the news conference, Sack noted that the family learned at one undisclosed point of time that Harris had acquired a firearm, but did not know when or where.
“They worked with our department to transfer that to an adult who could legally possess,” said Sack. “The mother [and] the adult daughter worked with him.”
According to Sack, the family had a system for checking in on Harris, frequently checking his mail and room and monitoring his interactions with others. That’s said, it’s unclear when he ended up with the firearm used in Monday’s shooting and whether it was the same one that the family had previously reported to police.
Police confirmed Tuesday that Harris was the only gunman tied to the incident and that CVPA High School appeared to be the target, not an individual.
Mayor Tishaura Jones and Missouri Congresswoman Cori Bush also renewed their calls for more gun control legislation in Wednesday’s press conference.
“St. Louis has had enough. We are beyond enough,” said Bush.
Jay Greenberg with the FBI Division of St. Louis adds, following Monday’s shooting, there have been an increase in “hoax threats” made toward St. Louis area schools in recent days. As a result, the law enforcement presence has increased at several schools this week.
“We ask for everybody’s help here to make sure we have these get these hoax threats ramped down so that law enforcement can do the job they need to, and we can continue to get services out to all the victims of the broader community,” said Greenberg.
Sack credited several St. Louis businesses, including Schnucks and Interface Construction, for helping with the response to the shooting. CVPA High School will be closed for the next several weeks as district officials work to determine the next steps.