West News Wire: As the United States continues to be shaken by senseless school shootings, a gunman opened fire at a high school in the US state of Missouri, killing a mother and a teenage girl and injured six others, according to officials.
Students at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis were forced to barricade doors, hide in classroom corners, leap from windows, and flee the building on Monday morning due to an attack.
One girl claimed that she was face-to-face with the shooter before his rifle allegedly jammed, allowing her to flee.
Police Commissioner Michael Sack said during a news conference that the shooter was about 20 years old but did not provide a name for him or his victims. Sack declined to say if the woman killed was a teacher.
He said the gunman, who was armed with a “long gun”, was fatally wounded in an exchange of gunfire with police officers who arrived at the school within a couple of minutes of receiving a report of an active shooter.
“Officers began to clear the building looking for the shooter,” the police commissioner said. “Upon hearing gunfire, they ran to that gunfire, located the shooter and engaged that shooter in an exchange of gunfire.”
The other six people were hospitalised with gunshot and shrapnel wounds, Sack said. He did not provide any information on their conditions.
“While on paper we might have nine victims, we have hundreds of others,” Sack said. “Everyone who survived this is going to take home trauma.”
The US has seen a series of deadly school shootings in recent months, renewing a nationwide debate around gun control and calls for Congress to make it more difficult for young people to buy firearms.
One of the deadliest incidents took place in May in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 children and two adults in a rampage that also spurred widespread condemnation of the local law enforcement response.
In the Uvalde attack, police and other law enforcement officers were castigated for waiting more than an hour before confronting the shooter, who was locked in a classroom with students and teachers. The suspect in that case entered the school building through an unlocked door.
On Monday, St Louis Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams said seven security guards were in the school at the time of the shooting, each at an entry point of the locked building.
One of the guards noticed the man was trying to get in at a locked door but could not. The guard notified school officials and ensured that police were contacted, Sack said.
One student, 16-year-old Taniya Gholston, told the St Louis Post-Dispatch that she was in a room that the shooter entered.
“All I heard was two shots and he came in there with a gun,” Gholston said. “And I was trying to run and I couldn’t run. Me and him made eye contact, but I made it out because his gun got jammed. But we saw blood on the floor.”
Ninth-grader Nylah Jones told the Post-Dispatch she was in math class when the shooter fired into the room from the hallway. The shooter was unable to get into the room and banged on the door as students piled into a corner, she said.
When the school was locked down, Janay Douglas’ 15-year-old daughter became caught in a hallway. Douglas claimed that her daughter called her to let her know that she had heard gunfire.
One of her companions broke down the door, according to Douglas. “After he was shot in the hand, she and her pals suddenly started running away. The phone line was cut off. I had already left.
Tishaura Jones, the mayor of St. Louis, was likewise horrified by the shooting. Jones added during the news conference that “our children shouldn’t have to go through this.”
They shouldn’t be required to participate in active shooter drills in case something tragic occurs, like it did today.
A magnet school with a focus on the visual, performing, and musical arts is Central Visual and Performing Arts High School.