Update: 3 dead, including suspect in shooting at St. Louis high school
ST. LOUIS — At least three people were killed, including the suspect, and seven more were injured after a shooting Monday morning at Central Visual & Performing Arts High School in south St. Louis.
A woman died at a hospital, and a teen girl was pronounced dead inside the school, both of gunshot wounds.
The suspect, a male not yet identified but estimated to be in his 20s, was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The shooting was reported after 9 a.m. at South Kingshighway and Arsenal Street.
David Williams, a math teacher at the school, said the school principal came over the loudspeaker around 9 a.m. and said the code word that indicates a school shooter in the building. Williams heard multiple shots outside his classroom, and one of the windows on the classroom door was shot out. He then heard a man say, “You are all going to (expletive) die.”
Raymond J. Parks, a dance teacher at the school, said he was about to teach a ballet class when he saw a man wearing all black with a long gun out of the corner of his eye. Parks said the man pointed the gun at him but did not fire for some reason.
Nylah Jones, a ninth grader at the school, said she was in math class and the shooter fired into the room from the hallway but could not get into the classroom. Students piled into the corner of the room and tried not to move as the shooter banged on the door, she said.
Ryane Owens, 18, a senior at CVPA, said students “thought it was a drill at first. Then we heard noises.”
“Once you heard the boom,” said teacher Michael De Filippo, “all the chuckling and laughing in the back of the room stopped.”
Taniya Lumpkin was in speech and debate class at the time. She said a staff member told them to close and lock the door as they do for an intruder drill, but they “didn’t know if it was real or not.”
“Next thing you know, we just heard gunshots,” Nylah said. First single shots rang out, then multiple, then single again, she said.
Taniya Gholston, 16, another student at CVPA, said the shooter’s gun eventually jammed and that she did not recognize him. She said she heard him say something about being “sick of this (expletive) school.”
Ja’miah Hampton, 16, was in vocal class on the fourth floor of the building when she heard gunshots on the third floor. “I heard one big one, and then there were so many I stopped counting,” she said. “I’m confused why people are so cruel.”
Dakota Willard, 14, who attends Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience — also housed in the CVPA building — said he saw what looked like one person, a girl, down at the end of the hallway that joins the two schools.
He said it looked like she was trying to run away by the way she was lying on the floor.
“What I saw was traumatizing,” Willard said. “I’m OK. I don’t need any special help.”
Tonya Neal, a certified nursing assistant at SLU Hospital, said she has a daughter and a niece who attend school there. At 9:19 a.m., she received a text from her daughter that read, “Mom, I love you.”
She didn’t realize until later that there was an active shooter at the school. She said her daughter and niece are safe.
By 9:30 a.m., the entire area was blocked off by police, ambulances and a SWAT van.
Students and staff streamed from the school with hands in the air, filing up Hereford Street toward the Schnucks on Arsenal, where hundreds of evacuees gathered.
Hundreds of people gathered in the Schnucks parking lot, where students and their parents were hugging each other.
One boy was consoling his mother. “I’m glad it’s over. My friends are alive. It’s OK, Mom, it’s OK, I’m here,” he said.
Keisha Acres, mother of sophomore Alexandria Bell, said she was still looking for her daughter at 10:30 a.m.
CVPA was Southwest High School for decades until 1992. At least one main entrance to the building has metal detectors.
Several parents commended police response to the incident.