St Louis school shooting suspect Orlando Harris’ had ‘intended targets’ and history of mental health issues

Harris killed 10th grade student Alexzandria Bell and health teacher Jean Kuczka, 61, before he was gunned down by police eight minutes into the rampage

Andrea Blanco
Wednesday 26 October 2022 22:58 BST
One adult, one girl and shooter die in shooting at St. Louis high school, police confirm

The St Louis school shooter who killed two on Monday had intended targets, police say.

Nineteen-year-old Orlando Harris, a former student at Central VPA High School, stormed inside the school with an AR-15-style rifle and 600 rounds of ammunition, authorities have learned.

Harris killed 10th grade student Alexzandria Bell and health teacher Jean Kuczka, 61, before he was gunned down by police eight minutes into the rampage.

Kuczka, a 20-year veteran educator, has been described as a charismatic and kind teacher who was always there for his students, one of her former pupils told The Independent. Meanwhile, Alexzandria has been remembered as an outgoing 15-year-old with a passion for dancing.

As more details emerge of the lead-up to the violence, St Louis Metropolitan Police Lieutenant Colonel Michael Sack revealed on Wednesday that Harris had a list of targets. It has not been disclosed whether either of the victims was among the targets.

Authorities also revealed that Harris’ family had alerted law enforcement in the past when he purchased a firearm, possibly the one used in the attack. The gun was removed from the home following concerns about Harris’ mental health, and it is unknown whether he was able to retrieve it.

Orlando Harris
Orlando Harris (St Louis Public Schools via KSDK)
Police said this image shows the ammo found on Orlando Harris
Police said this image shows the ammo found on Orlando Harris (St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department)

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, authorities said.

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

“[The family] were aware that he had acquired a firearm,” Mr Sack said, adding that Harris’ family was heartbroken and was actively cooperating with the investigation. “They worked with our department to transfer that to an adult who could legally possess one.”

Authorities sent the serial number of the rifle used on Monday to ATF to track the origin of the weapon, and whether it is the one that had been removed from Harris’ home.

School Shooting St Louis
School Shooting St Louis

Mr Sack also said that Harris’ family would often check his mail and go through his belongings to ensure he was not a threat to himself or others.

“Mental health is a difficult thing,” Mr Sack said. “It’s hard to tell when somebody is going to be violent and act out, or if they’re just struggling, they’re depressed.”

Four other victims were shot during the attack, and one girl suffered a broken ankle after jumping from a third-floor window when trying to escape the violence,

Mr Sack read from Harris’ note during the press conference a day after the attack at Central VPA.

“I don’t have any friends. I don’t have any family. I’ve never had a girlfriend. I’ve never had a social life. I’ve been an isolated loner my entire life,” Harris wrote.

“This was the perfect storm for a mass shooter.”

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