By Ashley Winters
At least three people are dead, including an alleged shooter, and seven others injured following a shooting incident at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School at 3125 S. Kingshighway on Monday morning.
Family members confirmed that one of the victims was Jean Kuczka, a health and physical education teacher at the school. Her daughter Abbey said she had been a teacher for 38 years, the past 20 with St. Louis Public Schools.
The identity of a teen female victim who was killed had not been released.
Interim St. Louis Police Chief Michael Sack said in a press conference the suspect was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police.
He has been identified as Orlando Harris, 19. He graduated last year from the school.
“This is a heartbreaking day for all of us,” he said somberly.
“I’m heartbroken for these families who send their children to our schools hoping that they will be safe,” said St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones at the press conference.
“Our children shouldn’t have to experience this; they shouldn’t have to go through active shooter drills in case something happens. And unfortunately, that happened today.”
Congresswoman Cori Bush said, this is one of those days we pray never happens across this country.”
“Parents wake up every day praying that it is not their school, not their child. I want to make sure you know that our office is standing with you.”
Bush added those that need counseling can find it through her office and other sources.
“It is OK to not be OK. Reach out,” Bush said.
St. Louis Public Schools released the following statement:
“Today, the Saint Louis Public Schools family has been devastated by news of an active shooter who injured six and killed one adult and one teen at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School before being shot and killed by an officer.”
“Counselors are on site and will continue to avail themselves to students, staff, and families for as long as needed. Administrators and counselors are meeting with families.”
According to the statement, SLPS has placed all schools on lockdown, and they will remain that way the remainder of the day.
“There will be limited movement in and outside the schools. At dismissal, all scheduled buses will leave at the appointed time.”
“We are asking that any parents who want to come to school and pick up a student, please call the school in advance and let the office know when and who will be picking up the student. The student will be walked out to them.
All after school classes and athletic activities are cancelled for this evening.
Fahalima Faji’s son is a freshman at Visual Performing Arts.
“My son called me. He said the school had an incident. ‘Come pick me up, I’m scared’ and I told him, I’m coming to get you,” the shaken father said with tears in his eyes.
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