School Attack – St. Louis, Missouri. 24 October 2022
October 25, 2022
Yesterday, 24 October 2022, a school attack took place at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. The school is located in St. Louis, Missouri and is a magnet school with approximately 383 students. The school specializes in visual, musical, and performing arts and shares a building with another magnet school, Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience.
Two people were murdered and at least seven others were wounded.
It is important to note that everything is still unfolding and therefore some of the information being shared may be changed later or proven to be incorrect. This is very common when it comes to school attacks but here is what is known so far.
- At approximately 9:10am, one of the 7 security guards at the school observed a young man armed with a long gun struggling to gain entrance into the school through a door.
- The security guard alerted school leadership and the principal called a codeword over the PA system that there was an active shooter.
- The school called 911. There does not appear to be an SRO in the school.
- After struggling with the door, nineteen year old Orlando Harris, a former student of the school, entered the building.
- It is unclear how the suspect breached the door. Later when answering questions, the Chief of Police stated that the door was locked but refused to answer how the suspect got through it.
- Once inside the building, the suspect made his way to the third floor. Before beginning his rampage he yelled, “You’re all going to f—ing die!
- At least six suffered injuries directly related to the shooting. Several students suffered broken bones after jumping from third story windows.
- 16-year-old student Alexis Bell was pronounced dead at the scene and Jean Kuczk, a 61-year-old physical education teacher, died at the hospital.
- The attack lasted less than twenty minutes. Law enforcement arrived quickly, entered the building immediately, ran to the third floor, and exchanged gunfire with the suspect who was shot and killed.
- All schools in the district were put on a lockdown. Once cleared, the students and staff members of Central Visual and Performing Arts High School were evacuated to a release location and then reunited with their families.
- Academics have been cancelled for the district. However, care and counseling personnel are available for students, families, and staff members.
Points of Interest:
- Student Alexis Bell and teacher Jean Kuczk were not killed but murdered. For litigious reasons the media will say, “Killed” but that does not do justice to those who lost their lives or the families who lost their loved one. No one was killed—they were murdered.
- It will be very normal for staff members, students, and parents to be more anxious and concerned. Especially for those in areas that have recently suffered severe trauma such as those near Buffalo, New York where there was a mass shooting this year at a local grocery store.
To be sad, anxious, and worried is a truly normal feeling after hearing about such a heinous and abnormal event. Everyone will need something different. When a police officer was murdered in my department, I needed to attend the critical incident debriefing and hear every painful detail of what happened. Several of my fellow officers did not.
If you can, try not to pressure anyone—let them tell you what they need, if anything. The best thing that you can do for the next few days is just to be as visible and open as possible. Your presence will be appreciated and reassuring for everyone!
- The police response here was completely different than at Uvalde. In fact, it would be fair to say that this response was the response that almost always happens. That is, officers rushing into the building and directly and immediately confronting the attacker. If you have the chance, remind your fellow teachers and staff members of this successful response from law enforcement. This is the true face of law enforcement and this is what they can expect if they need help.
- Several times during the press conferences, someone commented that the pause at the door gave law enforcement precious time. The suspect was held up by a locked door. Somehow he got through it but that pause gave the school precious seconds to call a lockdown and for the call to be made to law enforcement before the suspect could start firing. Without a doubt, this action saved lives.
Lock every door, lock all doors, make it non-negotiable! It can be inconvenient but locking doors has proven over and over again to save lives. Please lock your doors!
- The suspect got into at least one classroom after lockdown and failed to get into at least one other classroom after lockdown.
Several witnesses reported that the suspect tried their classroom door but it was locked. Unable to get in, he shot through the door but was not able to hit the students and teacher who were hiding in the corner.
In another classroom, witnesses state that the murderer opened their classroom door and began to shoot at them inside the room. When his weapon appeared to jam, several of the students ran from the classroom.
It’s not an overstatement to say that school attacks could be boiled down to a fight to control the classrooms. The attacker wants to get in and we must keep him out!
We must keep them out!
In this attack we see what has been replayed in so many other attacks. The suspect tries to enter a classroom but can’t get in. Therefore, instead of busting down the door they fire through the door and then move on—searching for an unlocked door.
As you are practicing your lockdowns it is vital that you stress to your staff as well as perfect their ability to immediately run to the door, close their door (it must already be locked), and get out of the way of the door.
Teachers may not be able to stop a person from entering their school but if they perfect these 3 critical steps they will stop the attacker from getting into their classroom. Nothing is more important than locking out the threat.
- Students were stuck in halls and were not sure what to do. Train and prepare your students. I cannot imagine anything scarier for these young people than to be alone, in the hall during an attack, and not knowing what to do.
- Try not to use codewords. They can be confusing especially for new students, teachers, and substitutes. Use plain English. Do nothing that slows down your response. Instead, speak plainly, clearly, and give as much information as you can.
“Lockdown, lockdown, lockdown. There is a person with a gun trying to get into door number 4. Lockdown, lockdown, lockdown!”
I’m available for questions, concerns, or if you’d like to problem solve any issues. Please let me know how I can help!
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