On Monday morning, a gunman broke into a St. Louis high school and killed a woman, a teenage girl, and wounded six others before being shot dead by police.
Central Visual and Performing Arts High School students barricaded doors and huddled in classroom corners, jumped from windows and ran for safety after the shooting at around 9 a.m. One terrorized girl said she was eye-to-eye with the shooter before his gun apparently jammed and she was able to run out.
Security guards and police officers who responded quickly to the gunfire helped end the shooting before more people were killed or injured. The city’s police chief said.
According to Police Chief Michael Sack, the shooter was about 20 years old, but did not name him or his victims. He would not say if the woman murdered was a teacher.
During the incident, seven security guards were at various entry points in the locked building, according to Superintendent Kelvin Adams. The guard noticed the man attempting to enter a locked door, but he was unable to do so. It was the guard who alerted school officials and notified the police, Sack said.
“His timely response, along with the fact that the door did cause the suspect to pause, gave us some time,” Sack said.
He declined to say how the man eventually got inside, armed with what he described as a long gun. A magnet school, Central Visual and Performing Arts, shares a building with another magnet school, Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience, which was also evacuated. Central has 383 students, Collegiate 336.
After getting students out of the brick building, the officers “ran to that gunfire, located that shooter and engaged him in a gunfight,” killing him.
According to a tally by Education Week, Monday’s school shooting was the 40th resulting in injuries or deaths since it began tracking shootings in 2018. The number of deaths at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in May included 19 children and two teachers. On the same day as Monday’s St. Louis shooting, a Michigan teenager pleaded guilty to terrorism and first-degree murder for a school shooting in December 2021 that killed four students.
Sack did not provide any information about the condition of the six hospitalized patients. Some of them suffered gunshot wounds, while others were struck by shrapnel.
Taniya Gholston, 16, said the shooter entered a room where she was.
“As I was trying to run, he came in with a gun and I couldn’t run. We made eye contact but I was able to escape because his gun jammed. But there was blood on the ground.”
Nylah Jones, a ninth-grader, told the Post-Dispatch that she was in math class when the shooter fired from the hallway. The shooter couldn’t get into the classroom, so he banged on the door as students piled into a corner.
After the school was locked down, Janay Douglas’ 15-year-old daughter got stuck in a hallway. The girl called her mom to say she had heard shots.
“One of her friends broke through the door, was shot in the hand, and then she and her friends took off running,” Douglas said. “I was on my way.”
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones was shaken by the shooting.
During the news conference, Jones said, “Our children shouldn’t have to experience this. It is unfortunate that we have to go through this.”
All schools in the district were placed on lockdown for the remainder of the day, and all after-school activities were canceled, including sports.
As a magnet school dedicated to the arts, Central Visual and Performing Arts High School specializes in visual, musical, and performing arts. According to the school’s website, the school’s educational program aims to provide students with a quality academic and artistic education that will prepare them for success at post-secondary institutions or to excel in the workplace.