St. Louis shooting victim was ‘wonderful’



The teenager killed in a college shooting in St. Louis was a “joyful, great” woman who cherished to bounce, her father stated.

Alexandria Bell, 15, died Monday morning when Orlando Harris broke into Central Visual and Performing Arts High School and commenced shooting. Teacher Jean Kuczka additionally died and 7 different college students had been injured. Police killed Harris in an alternate of gunfire minutes after they arrived.

St. Louis Public Schools on Tuesday confirmed that the victims had been Bell and 61-year-old bodily schooling instructor Jean Kuczka. Police had earlier stated {the teenager} was 16.

“Alexandria was my every part,” Andre Bell advised KSDK-TV. “She was joyful, great and only a nice individual.”

Alexandria, a tenth grader, was outgoing, cherished to bounce and was a member of the varsity’s junior varsity dance staff.

“She was the woman I cherished to see and cherished to listen to from. No matter how I felt, I may all the time discuss to her and it was alright. That was my child,” Andre Bell stated.

The assault compelled college students to barricade doorways and huddle in classroom corners, bounce from home windows and run out of the constructing to hunt security. One terrorized woman stated she was eye-to-eye with the shooter earlier than his gun apparently jammed and she or he was in a position to run out. Several folks inside the varsity stated they heard Harris warn, “You are all going to die!”

Harris, 19, graduated from the varsity final 12 months. The FBI was helping police in making an attempt to find out a motive, however Police commissioner Michael Sack stated at a information convention that psychological well being points could have been an element.

Abby Kuczka stated her mom was killed when the gunman burst into her classroom and she or he moved between him and her college students.

“My mother cherished children,” Abbey Kuczka advised the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “She cherished her college students. I do know her college students checked out her like she was their mother.”

The seven injured college students are all 15 or 16 years previous. All had been listed in secure situation. Sack stated 4 suffered gunshot or graze wounds, two had bruises and one had a damaged ankle.

The faculty in south St. Louis was locked, with seven safety guards close to every door, St. Louis Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams stated. A safety guard initially turned alarmed when he noticed the gunman making an attempt to get in one of many doorways. He was armed with a gun and “there was no thriller about what was going to occur. He had it out and entered in an aggressive, violent method,” Sack stated.

That guard alerted faculty officers and made certain police had been contacted.

Harris managed to get inside anyway — Sack declined to say how, saying he did not need to “make it simple” for anybody else who needs to interrupt into a college.

Sack provided this timeline of occasions: A 911 name got here in at 9:11 a.m. alerting police of an energetic shooter. Officers — some off-duty sporting avenue garments — arrived at 9:15 a.m. Police positioned Harris at 9:23 a.m. and commenced shooting at him. Harris was shot at 9:25 a.m. He was secured by police at 9:32 a.m.

Harris was armed with almost a dozen 30-round high-capacity magazines, Sack stated.

“This may have been a lot worse,” Sack stated.

Central Visual and Performing Arts shares a constructing with one other magnet faculty, Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience. Central has 383 college students, Collegiate 336.

Monday’s faculty shooting was the fortieth this 12 months leading to accidents or dying, in line with a tally by Education Week — probably the most in any 12 months because it started monitoring shootings in 2018. The lethal assaults embrace the killings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in May, when 19 youngsters and two lecturers died. Monday’s St. Louis shooting got here on the identical day a Michigan teenager pleaded responsible to terrorism and first-degree homicide in a college shooting that killed 4 college students in December 2021.

Taniya Gholston stated she was saved when the shooter’s gun jammed as he entered her classroom. “All I heard was two photographs and he got here in there with a gun,” the 16-year-old advised the Post-Dispatch. “I was making an attempt to run and I could not run. Me and him made eye contact however I made it out as a result of his gun bought jammed.”

The gunman pointed his weapon at Raymond Parks, a dance instructor on the faculty, however didn’t shoot him, Parks stated. The children in his class escaped outdoors and Parks tried to cease site visitors and get somebody to name the police. They got here rapidly.

“You could not have requested for higher,” Parks stated of the police response.

Ashley Rench stated she was instructing superior algebra to sophomores when she heard a loud bang. Then the varsity intercom introduced, “Miles Davis is within the constructing.”

“That’s our code for intruder,” Rench stated.

The gunman tried the door of the classroom however didn’t pressure his means in, she stated. When the police began banging, she wasn’t certain at first if it actually was legislation enforcement till she was in a position to look out and see officers.

“Let’s go!” she advised the youngsters.

Kuczka, the slain instructor, taught well being at Central for 14 years and just lately started teaching cross-country at Collegiate, her daughter stated. “She was undoubtedly wanting ahead to retirement although. She was shut,” Abbey Kuczka stated.

Kuczka’s biography on the varsity web site stated she was a married mom of 5 and a grandmother of seven. She was an avid bike rider and was a part of a 1979 nationwide championship discipline hockey staff at what’s now Missouri State University.

“I can’t think about myself in another profession however instructing,” Kuczka wrote on the web site. “In highschool, I taught swimming classes on the YMCA. From that time on, I knew I needed to be a instructor.”


AP reporter Margaret Stafford in Liberty, Missouri, contributed to this report. Salter reported from O’Fallon, Missouri.


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