Police say a 19-year-old former student killed a teacher and a 16-year-old student at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School.
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 suspect was taken into custody and later pronounced dead, a St. Louis police official told reporters.
He was identified as a recent graduate of Central with no criminal history, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Interim Chief Mike Sack told reporters at an evening news conference.
Sack said the gunman entered the school with a rifle in an “aggressive, violent manner.”
“There was no mystery about what was going to happen,” he said. A motive remained unclear; Sack said the apparent gunman may have been experiencing a mental illness.
Sack declined to provide additional details, saying investigators were still gathering information.
“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.”
Jean Kuczka, a health teacher at the high school, was killed, said Abbey Kuczka, her daughter.
“I found out just a few hours ago,” she said Monday afternoon.
Jean Kuczka was a mother of five, a grandmother of seven and a bike rider who participated in an annual charity event to raise money for juvenile diabetes, which her son has, according to her profile on the high school’s website.
Kuczka began working for St. Louis Public Schools in 2002 at Carr Lane Visual Performing Arts Middle School before she transferred 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 were 15, Sack said. Three others were 16. They sustained injuries 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 to escape.
Adrienne Bolden, a freshman, said he and his classmates had to jump out a window to escape.
Asked what was going through his mind at that point, he said “that I need to stay alive.”