U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., talks to reporters about a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis on Monday. Looking on is St. Louis Mayor Tishara Jones and Public Safety Director Dan Isom. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 24 (UPI) -- A student and a teacher were killed in a shooting at a St. Louis high school Monday. Police shot and killed the alleged gunman, who authorities said appeared to be about 20 years old, in an exchange of gunfire inside the school.
Police received a call at 9:10 a.m. CDT, notifying them about an active shooter situation at the Central Visual & Performing Arts High School in the city's Northampton neighborhood.
Students and teachers inside the school were notified by the principal's urgent code message over the intercom that said "Miles Davis is in the building," alerting them to the shooter.
"Officers arrived within a couple minutes of the call going out. They immediately made entry into the school. As kids were fleeing out of the building, they talked to some of the kids who told them there was a shooter armed with a long gun," St. Louis Police Department Interim Commissioner Mike Sack told reporters outside the school.
"Upon hearing that gunfire, they ran to the gunfire, located the shooter and engaged that shooter in an exchange of gunfire. The suspect was struck and transported from this location and the suspect has since been pronounced deceased."
An adult female victim, a teacher, was taken to the hospital, and later died from her injuries. A teenage female was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police are not identifying the two victims until their family members are notified.
A total of eight people were transported to hospitals, including the suspect and the adult female who died.
Students were later reunited with family members at a nearby school.
"The others who were injured suffered a variety of injuries, from shrapnel injuries to gunshots. They're currently being treated as their condition changes," Sack told reporters.
No officers were injured.
The suspect's name hasn't been released yet, nor do police know about what if any relationship he had with staff, students or the school.
"The suspect appears to be about 20 years of age, we haven't positively identified him yet," Sack told reporters.
Bomb-sniffing dogs and tactical officers have now cleared the building and there is no further risk to the public.
Sack praised the job of the responding officers and said the fact the school was locked, improved the outcome.
"The fact that the door did cause a pause for the suspect, it bought us some time," Sack told reporters.
"The school was closed and the doors were locked. The security staff did an outstanding job identifying the suspect's efforts to enter and immediately notifying other staff and making sure we were contacted."
Officials would not elaborate on how the suspect was able to gain entry to the school, which has around 400 students.
"We're not going to talk about how the suspect got in," Sack said.
Investigators will begin interviewing all students who were present, but that likely won't happen until Tuesday.
"We do need to get the information from the kids who were in the building so we can talk to them. We do need to identify who was in the building and where they were at, that's very important," Sack told reporters.
According to math teacher David Williams, everyone went into "drill mode," after the principal's announcement. Students and teachers locked doors, turned of lights and hid. Williams said he heard three shots and heard someone scream, "You are all going to [expletive] die," right before a bullet went through one of his classroom windows.
When police arrived, they found the suspect on the third floor, outside Williams' classroom, and exchanged gunfire.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner praised everyone's response to the shooting, saying it saved lives.
"The situation is still developing and we will know more in the coming days, but one thing that is clear is that lockdown procedures -- which St. Louis Public School's administrators, teachers and students at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School and first responders followed as this attack unfolded -- were essential in preventing further violence."