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Hundreds gather at vigil to call for change after St. Louis school shooting

Students, parents and community leaders mourned and demanded change Monday night at a candlelight vigil in Tower Grove Park.

ST. LOUIS — A community torn to pieces gathered Monday night in Tower Grove Park to honor the teacher and student lost in shooting that morning at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis. They also came together to demand change.

CVPA student Alex Macias said it was a pretty average morning until the assistant principal came over the intercom with a signal they only hear during active shooter drills.

“People thought I was being overly dramatic," she said. "And then we heard gunshots, and everyone scattered to get on top of us in the corner of the classroom."

Marcias said her health teacher, Jean Kuczka, locked the classroom door, but it wasn’t enough to stop the shooter.

“He was able to just shoot his way in,” Macias said.

That's when he fired shots at the group of them, she said.

“He did shoot Mrs. Kuczka, and I just closed my eyes," she said. "I didn't really want to see anything else. But then as I thought he was leaving, I opened my eyes to see him standing there making eye contact with me. And then after he made eye contact, he just left, and then everyone in the room but me and my friends started jumping out the windows. I debated it, but I was too scared that I might die that way or break a leg."

She wasn’t alone. Student Brianna Love was in another classroom wondering if she was next.

“We were all huddled in this corner, sobbing over each other hugging each other holding each other's hands praying, hoping, not knowing what was going to happen completely helpless," Love said. "We couldn't do anything. I didn't have my phone on me. My phone was in my bag. I thought to myself, I was really going to die in that classroom without being able to text my mother that I love her."

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5 On Your Side’s Laura Barczewski asked Macias, “Are you going to feel safe at school anymore?”

“I only believe I'll feel safe if they up the security measures," she said. "I feel like they definitely are going to need more security at the school if they want us to come back. There's already people who are talking about not wanting to come back and their parents not wanting them to come back.”

As the community came together for the vigil in Tower Grove Park, they demanded change. But first, they grieved.

Macias said she will never forget what her teacher did for her.

An Interfaith Vigil to Save Children's Lives will honor the victims and other young lives taken by gun violence 4:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Mount Bethel Church, 1600 Belt Ave.

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