ST. LOUIS, Mo. (HPD) — The 19-year-old man who killed a teacher and a 15-year-old girl at a St. Louis high school was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and what appeared to be more than 600 cartridges, Police Commissioner Michael Sack said Tuesday.
Orlando Harris also left a handwritten note explaining Monday’s shooting at Central High School for the Visual and Performing Arts. Alexandria Bell, a tenth-grade student, and Jean Kuczka, a 61-year-old physical education teacher, were killed in the attack. Seven students were injured.
Police killed Harris in a drive-by shooting minutes later.
Sack read Harris’s note in which the man described a life of isolation and lamented not having friends, family or a girlfriend. In the note, he called his situation the “perfect storm for a mass murderer.”
Sack said Harris had some ammunition strapped to his chest and some in a bag. He specified that some cartridges were found lying on the stairs.
The attack forced students to barricade doors, crowd into the corners of classrooms, jump out of windows and run from the building to safety. A terrified girl recounted that she came face to face with the armed man, but that she was able to escape because her gun apparently jammed. Multiple people inside the school said Harris yelled, “You are all going to die!”
Harris, 19, graduated from the school last year. The FBI was helping police determine a possible motive, but Commissioner Sack indicated at a news conference that mental health issues may have been a factor.
Sack urged people to come forward when someone who appears to be suffering from mental illness or distress begins “talking about buying firearms or causing harm to others.”
Relatives of those killed mourned their losses.
“Alexandria was my everything,” her father Andre Bell told television station KSDK-TV. She was a “joyful and wonderful” girl who loved to dance, he said.
He added that Alexandria was an outgoing 10th grader who loved to dance and was a member of the school dance team.
“She was a girl I loved to see and I loved to hear from her. No matter how I felt, I could always talk to her and it was fine. She that was my baby,” Andre Bell claimed.
Abbey Kuczka testified that her mother, the teacher, was killed when the attacker broke into her classroom and she stood between him and his students.
“My mom loved boys.”
“She loved her students. I know that her students saw her as if she was her mother, ”she added in statements to the Post-Dispatch.