Police took gun from Orlando Harris months before St Louis school shooting

Family reported the weapon to police and asked for it to be removed from home, officials say

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Thursday 27 October 2022 01:20 BST
Related video: St Louis high school students flee shooting that left two victims dead

Police confiscated a gun from Orlando Harris months before he attacked a St Louis high school where he shot and killed a teacher and student.

Authorities say that they took action after the 19-year-old gunman’s family reported that he had a weapon and asked for it to be removed from their home.

St Louis Metropolitan Police’s Interim Chief Michael Sack told reporters that the family had done “everything that they possibly could have done” to help the teenager with mental health issues.

This included committing Harris on several occasions as well as providing him with therapy and medication. But the police chief added that “sometimes that not enough.”

Chief Sack told a news conference that the AR-15 had been transferred to an “adult who could legally possess one”, but did not say who that individual was.

“The mother wanted it out of the house, so they facilitated it, the party had it. How he acquired it after that, we don’t know. We’re looking into it,” he said.

And he gave the shooter’s mother and sister credit for their efforts with him.

“The mother, the adult daughter, they worked with him. They kind of had a system where they would track what might come in the mail, his interaction with others and try to make sure that he’s engaging people, that he feels loved,” he said.

Teacher, Jean Kuczka, 61, and a student, Alexzandria Bell, 15, were shot dead in the violence, while Harris was killed by police who responded to the incident.

Officials have not said how Harris got into Central Visual and Performing Arts High School on Monday, despite it having locked doors and seven security guards.

Harris left a note in his car with a list of other school shootings in the US, with the names of the gunmen and the number of killed people, and expressed his desire to be the next name on it.

He also had a map of the school in his car and laid out his attack in detail ahead of time.

The note included details concerning how Harris obtained the weapon used in the attack – an AR-15-style rifle – revealing that he bought it from a private dealer after being rejected at a gun show in St Charles County.

“I don’t have any friends, I don’t have any family. I’ve been an isolated loner my whole life. This was a perfect storm for a mass shooting,” Harris wrote.

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