ST. LOUIS – The person suspected of killing a teacher and student and injuring seven others in a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School was a graduate.
Interim St. Louis Police Chief Lt. Col. Michael Sack identified the suspect as 19-year-old Orlando Harris.
Harris graduated from CVPA last school year and had no prior criminal history on record, the chief said.
Investigators have not yet ascertained how Harris got the long gun used in the shooting. Chief Sack confirmed the shooter had several high-capacity magazines on his person when he was finally subdued. No police were injured in the confrontation.
The chief said local and federal investigators are also working to determine a motive for the shooting. They’re also trying to figure out where Harris was prior to coming to CVPA.
When asked if Harris had a list of prior school shooters and mass shootings in his possession, Sack said all of that would come out in the investigation. The chief only confirmed some evidence was removed from the shooter’s vehicle.
The shooting happened around 9:10 a.m. inside the school, located at S. Kingshighway Boulevard and Arsenal Street. CVPA is the former Southwest High School. It is a magnet school with approximately 400 enrolled students, specializing in visual, musical, and performing arts.
Chief Sack said the initial call for help came in at 9:11 a.m. Officers, some of whom were attending a colleague’s funeral nearby, arrived at the school by 9:15 a.m.
The officers entered the building and located Harris at 9:23 a.m. At 9:25 a.m., Harris was reported down. By 9:52 a.m., police gave their first all-clear of the building.
Sack identified the victims by age only. However, the family of 61-year-old Jean Kuczka confirmed she was the teacher killed in the shooting. Kuczka was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The second victim, a 16-year-old female student, was pronounced dead at the school.
The other seven victims are 15 and 16 years of age, respectively. Three suffered direct gunshot wounds, one student was grazed by a bullet, two suffered abrasions as a result of the shooting, and another victim fractured her ankle.
“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.”
In the hours before Monday afternoon’s news conference, St. Louis police and FBI agents conducted a search of a home in the 9000 block of Pennsylvania Avenue. Chief Sack confirmed Harris lived at that residence.
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.
Chief Sack did not say how the shooter got inside the school. He said they would not discuss it publicly out of caution. The chief did confirm the doors at the school were locked. Not every guard at the school was armed.
The chief said the security measures at schools are meant to slow down a would-be shooter or assailant to give police the time they need to respond to such an incident.