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Central VPA shooter bought gun in private sale after background check blocked previous attempt, police say

Police said an FBI background check successfully blocked him from buying the gun from the dealer on Oct. 8. He then bought a gun in a private sale.

ST. LOUIS — The suspect in Monday's Central Visual and Performing Arts shooting bought the gun he used in the shooting from another gun owner after being denied by a licensed dealer, police said Thursday.

In a statement, a St. Louis police spokesman said an FBI background check successfully blocked him from buying the gun from the dealer on Oct. 8. 

After he was denied, police said the shooter then bought a gun in a private sale from someone who legally bought the gun from a licensed dealer in December of 2020.

St. Louis police said there is no existing law which would have prevented the private sale between the original purchaser and the suspect in this case. 

It is not clear when he purchased the gun in a private sale, but police said they were called to his family's home on Oct. 15 when his mother discovered the gun in the home.

RELATED: St. Louis police previously removed the gun used in CVPA shooting after domestic disturbance

Police said they responded to a domestic disturbance at around 5 p.m. on Oct. 15 at the family's home. 

"Officers responded and determined at that time the suspect was lawfully permitted to possess the firearm," a statement from police said Wednesday night. "A third-party known to the family was contacted and took possession of the firearm so that it would no longer be stored in the home."

The updated information from police Wednesday night confirmed that the gun taken from the home was the AR-15 that was used in the Monday shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School.

In the Thursday statement, police again said there was no law giving them the option to take the gun away.

"The State of Missouri does not have a red flag law," the Thursday statement said. "That means St. Louis Police department officers did not have clear authority to temporarily seize the rifle when they responded to the suspect’s home when called by the suspect’s mother on 10/15/22."

Recently enacted federal law enhanced background checks for buyers younger than 21. 

The new bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which Missouri Senator Roy Blunt helped craft, also cracks down on private sellers, requiring them to run background checks on gun sales, according to 5 On Your Side's Mark Maxwell. 

But in Missouri, the Second Amendment Protection Act prohibits police from enforcing federal gun laws.

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