St. Louis police urge vigilance around mental health after Monday school shooting

St. Louis police urge vigilance around mental health after Monday school shooting

St. Louis police are urging parents and the community to be aware and speak up if anyone showing signs of mental distress starts talking about buying guns.

‘It’s important that we are all engaged so that we can try to intervene as early as possible in a person’s life to try to prevent a tragedy from happening,’ the police chief said on Tuesday. St. Louis acting Michael Sack the day after a shooting. at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School left two dead and seven injured.

St. Louis Public Schools confirmed Tuesday that the student killed was 15-year-old Alexandria Bell. The injured, all teenagers, are said to be stable with gunshot wounds, cuts and broken bones. One victim, a 15-year-old boy, had to be operated on.

Sack said the shooter, a former student at Magnet School in south St. Louis, left a note saying he was struggling with feelings of isolation and was a loner. The letter referred to a “perfect storm” for a mass shooting.

Classes were canceled Tuesday at CVPA and the Collegiate School of Medicine and Biosciences, which shares a building with Central. SLPS makes virtual and in-person resources available to students and staff across the district. The building’s long-term future is unclear.

DeAndre Davis, director of safety and security for the district, said SLPS and police department officials completed active shooter training a month and a half ago. He praised both the school security guards and the police officers who responded.

“And the kids did exactly what they were supposed to do,” Davis said. “They barricaded those doors, they got away from those windows, and when it came time to evacuate, they got out of that building as best they could.”

More filming details emerge

A police timeline provided on Monday showed officers shot the suspect dead within 10 minutes of arriving at the school – likely saving lives. The shooter was carrying a high-powered rifle and more than 600 rounds, and officers found rounds and casings when they entered the building.

According to the account published Tuesday, responding officers were helping Collegiate students evacuate when they heard gunshots fired at Central VPA. They eventually found the suspect barricaded on the third floor in a classroom used by CVPA. Officers fired their weapons when he refused multiple orders to drop his weapon and surrender, police said.

Alexandria Bell was pronounced dead at the scene. The other victim, gym teacher Jean Kuczka, was taken to hospital, where she was pronounced dead, after being shot in a classroom.

Kuczka’s son, Joseph, is a policeman in Eureka. The department said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that it was heartbroken by what happened and “grateful for the quick response of first responders whose heroic actions saved many more lives.”

Sack did not respond to questions about where and how the 19-year-old shooter got the gun, saying it was part of the ongoing investigation. He had no adult criminal history and the juvenile records are sealed.

The school’s main entrances are locked during the day and students must go through metal detectors, but Davis said the shooter did not enter through a checkpoint.

Photos from the school show a door in the side of the building with broken glass, which may be how he entered.

Also on Tuesday, Belleville police arrested two students who brought firearms to Belleville East High School.

In a Facebook post, the department said a parent alerted both the school and law enforcement officials to social media posts that showed a 15-year-old boy handling a gun before school. School campus patrol, along with the police officer assigned to the building, located the two students, the 15-year-old boy and a 14-year-old boy. Police found a gun and ammunition during a search.

Police said the boys did not show the gun to school, and they do not believe there is an ongoing threat to public safety related to this incident.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

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