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'I hope, I beg, that we learn a lesson': School leader calls for change after school shooting

"Our security officers acted with unflinching courage. The police responded immediately and yet, we're still left with tragedy," said Matt Davis.

ST. LOUIS — In a press conference Tuesday, leaders from St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) provided an update on the deadly school shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School (CVPA) and made a plea for change.

"I hope...I beg...that we learn a lesson," Matt Davis, the St. Louis Board of Education president said in the opening statement.

Davis said the district, police and students did everything they could to keep the shooting from getting worse, but it didn't prevent the deaths of 15-year-old Alexzandria Bell and 61-year-old Jean Kuczka.

"One of the hardest things is that people keep saying that the district did everything right...that there really wasn't anything more that we could do," he said. 

"...that the training went off as planned...that the students followed how they were trained...that staff followed how they were trained...that our security officers acted with unflinching courage," he said. "The police responded immediately and yet; we're still left with tragedy."

St. Louis Police Department (SLPD) Director of Security DeAndre Davis provided an update to the timeline and offered more information about the response on Monday. 

He said he was responding to another report of a lockdown at St. Louis Community College, where some SLPS students are dual-enrolled, when he received the report of a lockdown at CVPA.

He said the district's armed security officers arrived at the scene along with police officers. They made their way inside and confronted the shooter minutes later.

He said the stationary officer posted at the school are not armed with guns, and the armed response officers are the ones that arrived minutes later.

When asked whether the district would consider changing its policy regarding armed security inside schools, Davis said they would "review everything," and said they are constantly working to harden schools beyond the current system. 

He said the decision to add more security officers is a balance. 

When asked if an armed officer stationed at the school could have made a difference, Davis said:

"I don't know how much firepower it would take to stop that person. You saw the police response. It was massive, it was overwhelming. If you talk to the law enforcement, they don't believe that it is in the best interest of our society to allow people to have these high-powered rifles, especially when they fall into the hands of people that want to do harm. So, I don't know if it would have been different is if this high-powered rifle was not available to this individual. That would have made the difference."

RELATED: 'Just keep praying': St. Louis student recovering after school shooting

SLPS leaders gathered earlier Tuesday for a press conference. Superintendent Kelvin Adams announced classes at CVPA and Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience were canceled for the rest of the week. 

Adams said both schools would return to virtual learning next week, and that the district has made mental health support available to students and staff of CVPA and CSMB.

He said he is not sure when classes can resume on the campus, but it might be for weeks or months. In a press release Tuesday night, CVPA Principal Kacy Seals-Shahid said they are working to find alternative sites for their students to return to the stage.

Adams said the building was handed back to the district after a police investigation. 

He said they would not be allowing students back inside and were still working on a way for students and teachers to collect personal items left in the school.

The principals from CVPA and CSMB also spoke about Monday's shooting and the victims who lost their lives.

Seals-Shahid said she spoke with Alexzandria Bell and Bell's mother Monday morning. 

She said Bell forgot her glasses at home on Monday and her mother drove in and dropped them off. 

"When Alex got off her bus...I asked her, 'Aren't you going to need these...because you can't see without them?'" Seals-Shahid said. "And we shared an exchange and she said, 'How did to get them," and I explained how mom brought them."

Seals-Shahid described Kuczka as a welcoming and optimistic teacher. She said Kuczka taught health to all of the school's ninth graders, sometimes as many as 40 at a time, but never complained.

"She was also...and my staff won't like this...probably the only teacher that never complained about anything," she said.

She said her dedication extended to her family. 

She did bike riding fundraisers to support childhood diabetes because of her son's condition and she never missed a sporting event or track meet for her daughter.

"She will be greatly missed by our school community and by our student body," Seals-Shahid said.

You can watch the full press conference below or by clicking here.

This is a developing story. 5 On Your Side will update this story as soon as information becomes available.

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