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Students stand in a parking lot near the Central Visual & Performing Arts High School after a reported shooting at the school in St. Louis, on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022.
David Carson—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP
Updated: | Originally published:

Survivors of the school shooting in St. Louis on Monday described their terror as a gunman opened fire, killing two people before being fatally shot after exchanging gunfire with police.

Students barricaded themselves in classrooms and reportedly jumped out of windows to escape the shooting at Central Visual & Performing Arts High School, located on the south side of St. Louis.

The victims have not been identified, but one teenage girl and one woman were killed. The victims taken to the hospital had injuries ranging from shrapnel wounds to cardiac arrest.

Police officers were informed about the shooting just after 9 a.m. as hundreds of students, faculty, and staff members fled Central Visual & Performing Arts High School, located on the south side of St. Louis.

“I’m heartbroken for these families who send their children to our schools hoping that they will be safe,” said St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones at the press conference. “Our children shouldn’t have to experience this, they shouldn’t have to go through active shooter drills in case something happens. And unfortunately that happened today.”

Law enforcement investigate the scene of a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis, on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. (Jeff Roberson—AP)
Law enforcement investigate the scene of a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis, on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022.
Jeff Roberson—AP

What happened?

About 9:10 a.m., a gunman—believed to be in his 20s—was reported at Central Visual & Performing Arts High School. Onsite security guards quickly noticed that the shooter, who was reportedly armed with a long gun, was struggling to enter through the school’s locked doors. The principal, using a codeword, warned students over the loudspeaker that an active shooter was on site.

It’s unclear how the gunman was able to enter the school.

Officers arrived at the school within minutes and ran to the sound of gunshots, police said. They exchanged gunfire with the shooter on the third floor, who was killed.

By 9:30 am, the school was blocked off by police, ambulances, and a SWAT van, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

One student told KMOV-TV that she and her classmates jumped out of a fourth floor window and were caught by officers to escape the shooting. Students told 5 On Your Side and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that at least four gunshots were fired.

Ashley Rench, a math teacher at the high school, told local radio station KMOX that she saw students covered in blood as they attempted to escape out of the third floor. “I looked at one student’s leg and she had blood going down, so I helped her to the ambulance. One of those students who got out before that had been shot through the hand, so they were already wrapping his hand up.”

The shooting happened on the third floor of the high school and some students who jumped out of windows were injured; one broke both ankles in the fall, and another broke their nose.

“It’s traumatizing. Traumatizing for the teachers, the students, and the families that the kids have to go home to,” Rench stated.

Ray Parks, a dance teacher, told KMOX that he narrowly escaped the shooter. “He looked directly at me, pointed the gun at me, then pointed the gun away from me toward the ground,” Parks said. “It’s just so hard to get over. I can’t understand why I didn’t get hurt.”

Police said the threat to the school is over, though the investigation unit is on site and will conduct a more thorough examination and interview students in the coming days.

What do we know about the suspect?

Lt. Col. Michael Sack, St. Louis’ Interim Police Commissioner, says the suspect has not yet been identified. Authorities believe he is 20 years old.

Though the shooter’s connection to the school remains unknown, Taniya Gholston, a 16-year-old student at Central Visual & Performing Arts High School, told the Post-Dispatch that the shooter said something along the lines of being “sick of this damn school.” The shooter’s gun allegedly jammed, letting her and other students run to safety.

“I’m glad I made it out because his gun got jammed,” Gholston added. “We saw blood on the floor.”

Police believe they have located the suspect’s vehicle, which will be searched after bomb dogs do a check.

What do we know about the victims?

Eight people were transported to local hospitals, out of which one adult female has since been pronounced dead.

Police also said that one teenage girl who was shot and killed remains at the crime scene in the school. Identities of the victims have not been publicly shared.

Police have not shared the occupation of the adult woman who died, and are waiting for next of kin to confirm her relationship to the school.

Others continue to be treated, but there are no updates on their conditions.

Parents were told to reunite with their children at Gateway Stem High School.

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