The 19-year-old gunman who killed two people Monday at a St. Louis high school was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and more than 600 rounds of ammunition, and left a note referring to mass shootings, police said. .
St. Louis police on Tuesday showed an image of the rifle used by Orlando Harris, who died after exchanging fire with authorities.
“He had seven ammunition magazines on a chest he was carrying, he also had eight ammunition magazines in a field bag he was carrying,” St. Louis Police Chief Mike Sack told reporters. “This does not include the number of magazines he left behind and dumped on the stairs in the hallways along the way.”
Sack said the shooting could have been worse if the officers hadn’t gotten to the school so quickly.
“This could have been a horrible scene,” he said. “It wasn’t by the grace of God and the officers being as close as they were and responding the way they did.”
Sack did not clarify how the shooter gained access to the weapon, but emphasized the importance of checking in on those in need.
“If you know of a person who appears to be suffering from some sort of mental illness or distress, and they start talking about buying firearms or causing harm to others, we encourage you to contact someone and report it so we can get that person help,” he said.
Harris also left a handwritten note in the car he was driving to the school, according to police.
Sack read part of the note during the press conference, in which Harris described himself as a loner and referred to mass shootings.
“So reading this, we could see some of what’s going on in his head,” Sack said. “He feels isolated, he feels alone, possibly angry and resentful towards others who he deems have healthy relationships and were so eager to lash out.”
Harris entered Central Visual Performing Arts High School around 9 a.m. Monday morning with what police at the time categorized as a long shotgun.
After a shootout with authorities minutes later, the gunman was taken into custody and later pronounced dead, a St. Louis police officer told reporters.
Jean Kuczka, a 61-year-old health teacher, and Alexzandria Bell, a 15-year-old college student, were killed in the shooting, according to officials.
Kuczka was a mother of five, a grandmother of seven and a cyclist who participated in an annual charity event to raise money for juvenile diabetes, which her son has, according to her profile on the high school’s website.
She began working for St. Louis Public Schools in 2002 at Carr Lane Visual Performing Arts Middle School before transferring to high school in 2008 to teach health, personal finance, and physical education.
Andre Bell, Alexzandria’s adoptive father who lives in Los Angeles, called her losses “a nightmare,” NBC affiliate KSDK reported.
The 15-year-old sophomore had an outgoing personality and was a member of her high school’s junior varsity dance team, Bell told the news channel.
“She was cheerful, wonderful and just a wonderful person,” he told KSDK. “She was the girl I loved seeing and hearing from. No matter how I felt, I could always talk to her and that was good. That was my baby.”
A GoFundMe set up to help Alexzandria’s family with funeral expenses describes her as “beautiful, talented and charismatic.”
Sack could not provide an update on the many other victims injured in the shooting, saying he is not aware of any of them who have been released from the hospital since they were admitted. They were all 15 and 16-year-olds and suffered injuries ranging from gunshot wounds to a broken ankle and facial abrasions, he said Monday.