Female, teenage girl shot and killed in Missouri high school; police kill shooter

ST. LOUIS >> An armed man broke into a St. Louis high school this morning warning, “You are all going to die! before fatally killing a teacher and a teenage girl, and injuring six others before police killed him in a gunfight.

The attack just after 9 a.m. at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School forced students to barricade doors and huddle in the corners of the classroom, jump out of windows and run out of the building to take shelter. A terrified girl said she was nose to nose with the shooter before her gun apparently jammed and she was able to get away.

Speaking at a news conference, Police Chief Michael Sack said the quick actions of a security guard, along with officers who “ran towards the shots”, helped put down end the shooting before more people are killed or injured. He said the shooter was around 20 years old, but did not identify him and said a possible motive was not yet known.

Authorities did not name the victims, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch identified the teacher who died as Jean Kuczka. His daughter said her mother was killed when the gunman burst into her classroom and she moved between him and his students.

“My mother loved children,” Abbey Kuczka told the newspaper. “She loved her students. I know her students looked at her like she was their mother.

St. Louis Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams said seven security guards were in the school at the time of the attack, each posted at an entrance to the locked building. One of the guards noticed that the shooter was trying to enter through a locked door, but couldn’t. The guard notified school officials, who contacted police, Sack said.

“It was that quick response from that security guard, the fact that the door caused the suspect to pause, that bought us time,” Sack said.

He declined to say how the man finally got inside, armed with what he described as a long gun. Central Visual and Performing Arts shares a building with another magnet school, the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience. Central has 383 students, Collegiate 336.

Officers worked to get the students out of the three-story building, then “ran to that gunshot, located that shooter, and engaged that shooter in a gunfight,” killing him, Sack said.

Today’s school shooting was the 40th this year resulting in injury or death, according to an Education Week tally – the highest number since it began tracking shootings in 2018 Deadly attacks include the killings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in May, when 19 children and two teachers died. Today’s shooting in St. Louis took place the same day a Michigan teenager pleaded guilty to terrorism and first-degree murder in a school shooting that killed four students in December 2021.

Some of the six people hospitalized in today’s attack suffered gunshot wounds, while others were hit by shrapnel, Sack said. He did not provide any information about their conditions.

Taniya Gholston said she was saved when the shooter’s gun jammed as he walked into her classroom. “All I heard was two shots and he came in with a gun,” the 16-year-old told the Post-Dispatch. “I was trying to run and I couldn’t run. He and I made eye contact, but I walked away because his gun jammed.

Two teachers recounted near-miss clashes with the shooter.

Ashley Rench told The Associated Press she was teaching advanced algebra to second graders when she heard a loud bang. Then the school intercom announced, “Miles Davis is in the building.

“This is our code for intruders,” Rench said.

The students took cover under his desk and behind his podium as the gunman attempted to enter the locked classroom before giving up and walking away.

“I don’t know why he chose not to break my windows or shoot through the lock,” she said.

Raymond Parks was about to teach a junior dance class when a man dressed in black approached. At first Parks thought the man was carrying a broom or a stick. Then he realized it was a gun.

“The children started screaming, running and thrashing around. He walked right into both gates and pointed his gun at me because I was in front,” Parks said.

For some unknown reason, Parks said, the shooter pointed the gun away from him and let Parks and the dozen or so students leave the room. “That’s what I don’t understand. He let me go,” Parks said.

Janay Douglas’ 15-year-old daughter got stuck in a hallway when school was closed. Douglas said he received a call from his daughter letting him know she heard gunshots.

“A friend of hers came through the door, he was shot in the hand, and then she and her friends started running. The phone disconnected,” Douglas said. “I was on my way.”

Kuczka, the slain teacher, taught health at Central for 14 years and recently started coaching cross country at Collegiate, her daughter said. “She was really looking forward to retirement. She was close,” Abbey Kuczka said.

Kuczka’s biography on the school’s website stated that she was married, a mother of five, and a grandmother of seven. She was an avid cyclist and was on a 1979 national championship field hockey team at what is now Missouri State University.

“I can’t imagine myself in any career other than teaching,” Kuczka wrote on the website. “In high school, I gave swimming lessons at the YMCA. From that moment I knew I wanted to be a teacher.

The shooting rocked St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones.

“Our kids shouldn’t have to go through this,” Jones said at the press conference. “They shouldn’t have to go through active fire drills in case something happens. And unfortunately, it happened today.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said more action was needed to end gun violence.

“Every day that the Senate does not send an assault weapons ban to the President’s desk or waits to take other common-sense action is a day too late for families and communities impacted by gun violence.” , said Jean-Pierre.

The school district placed all of its schools on lockdown for the rest of the day and canceled all extracurricular activities, including sports.

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