Breaking News
More () »

Teacher, teenage girl killed, 4 other teens shot at south St. Louis high school

Police said there were nine people with injuries in the shooting. One of the victims killed in the shooting was identified as a health teacher at the school.

ST. LOUIS — Two victims were killed and several others were injured after a shooting at a St. Louis high school Monday morning. The suspect was killed.

The victims were identified by family members as a teenage girl who was a student at the school and a grandmother who was a teacher at the school.

At 9:11 a.m., St. Louis police were called to Central VPA High School at Kingshighway Boulevard and Arsenal Street for an active shooter.

St. Louis police officers arrived four minutes after the initial call and made entry into the school, according to Interim Police Chief Michael Sack. As students were running out of the building, they told officers there was a shooter armed with a long gun.

While exchanging gunfire with police, the suspect was shot. He was taken to an area hospital where he died.

In a press conference Monday evening, Sack identified the shooting suspect as Orlando Harris, a 19-year-old who graduated from the school in 2021. He said he had no criminal history and lived with family on Pennsylvania Avenue in south St. Louis. He said investigators are still working to determine a possible motive.

In the evening press conference, Sack said the quick response to the shooting prevented it from getting worse. He said the suspect had almost a dozen high-capacity magazines that each held 30 rounds.

"This is just how St. Louis officers are, they're not going to hesitate, they're not going to wait when they know that there's a threat out there," Sack said.

RELATED: Timeline: 3 dead, including suspect, after shooting at south St. Louis high school

Credit: AP
People gather outside after a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts high school in St. Louis, on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. (Jordan Opp/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

Police said eight people total were taken to the hospital with injuries. One woman died at the hospital and a teenage girl was pronounced dead at the school. 

The adopted father of the teenage victim identified her as 15-year-old Alexzandria "Alex" Bell. He said she was a sophomore at the school and one of nine children.

He said she loved to dance and was on the school's junior dance team.

Credit: Andre Bell
The father of the teenage victim identified her as 15-year-old Alexzandria "Alex" Bell. He said she was a sophomore at the school and one of nine.

The woman was identified as Jean Kuczka, a health teacher at the high school. Her daughter, Abbey Kuczka, confirmed to NBC News that her mother was killed by the gunman.

"I found out just a few hours ago," she told NBC News Monday afternoon.

According to her bio on the school's website, she started teaching at the school in 2008. She was an avid bike rider, mother of five and grandmother of seven.

Credit: SLPS
Jean Kuczka, a health teacher at Central VPA, was shot and killed at the school, her daughter confirmed.

Sack said the other seven victims were all teenagers. He said four of the victims were shot, one suffered a broken ankle and two had cuts on their faces and knees. All the surviving victims were listed in stable condition.

Sack said officers arrived four minutes after receiving the call, engaged the shooter eight minutes after they arrived and gave a call for "suspect down" two minutes after that.

City of St. Louis Emergency Management asked people to avoid the area as several roads were currently closed.

RELATED: SLPS says Central VPA students can be picked up at Gateway STEM

Adrianne Bolden, a freshman at Central VPA High School, recalled the moment he and his classmates escaped as gunshots rang out. 

“We just thought it was a regular intruder drill. But, when we started hearing sirens outside and the teachers started to even get scared, then we knew that this wasn't just a regular drill and it was real," Adrianne said.

Adrianne reunited with his mother in a nearby Schnucks parking lot after the shooting. When 5 On Your Side asked Adrianne how he felt once he was able to see his mother, he said, “Hopeful."

RELATED: 'All of y’all are going to die': Students describe coming face-to-face with school shooter

Another student told 5 On Your Side about her encounter with the shooter.

“He said, “All of y’all are going to die.’ Everyone was scared… I’m just glad that I’m OK,” she said.

As the news of the shooting was breaking, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones tweeted, "Help us Jesus."

Earlier this year, the 5 On Your Side I-Team analyzed data from the K-12 School Shooting Database, which tracks data on school shootings in the United States since 1970. It’s managed by The Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

The data shows that 14 people have been shot to death at schools in Missouri over the past 50 years. About 30 people have been injured.

During that same time period, 32 people have been shot to death at schools in Illinois and another 100 were injured.

According to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics, there were a total of 93 school shootings with casualties at public and private elementary and secondary schools during the 2020-21 school year, more than any year since data collection began. 

Of those, 43 of the shootings included deaths and 50 included injuries only.

RELATED: Data shows how frequent school shootings are in Missouri and Illinois

Editor's note: A previous version of this story included a description of a suspect from a student who said they witnessed the shooting. That description was inaccurate according to police information and has been removed.


Before You Leave, Check This Out