CNN

When a 19-year-old shooter opened fire in a school in Saint-Louis On Monday, killing two people and injuring several others, he was armed with a long gun and nearly a dozen high-capacity magazines – enough ammunition for a “much worse” situation, the commissioner of Michael Sack font.

Authorities credited locked doors and a quick police response — including by off-duty officers — with preventing more killings at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Sack said. “The individual had almost a dozen 30-round… high capacity magazines on him. That’s a lot of casualties there.

Yet, he said, what happened is tragic for the families of the victims and the community.

A 15-year-old girl was killed at the scene and a 61-year-old woman was pronounced dead at a hospital, Sack said. The shooter died in a hospital after a shootout with officers, he said.

There have been at least 67 school shootings this year in the United States.

The slain girl has been identified as Alexandria Bell, her father Andre said Affiliated with CNN KSDK. She was a month away from her 16th birthday, he told the affiliate.

Alexandria had an outgoing personality, loved to dance, and was on her high school’s junior varsity dance team, her father said.

The woman killed was identified as Jean Kuczka, a physical education and health teacher who was looking forward to retirement in the next few years, her daughter Abigail Kuczka told CNN.

“Jean was passionate about making a difference and enjoyed spending time with his family,” Abigail Kuczka said in a statement.

In his biography on the school websiteKuzcka said she has been at Central VPA High School since 2008. “I believe that every child is a unique human being and deserves a chance to learn,” she wrote in her biography.

Seven other teenagers were injured, some of them with gunshot wounds or abrasions, and others with abrasions. One had a fractured ankle. They were all in stable conditions, the commissioner said.

The shooter has been identified as Orlando Harris, who graduated from the school last year. He died in a hospital after a shootout with officers, according to the commissioner.

It’s unclear how the shooter gained access to the school, which authorities said had closed. The commissioner declined to provide those details, saying, “I don’t want to make it easy for anyone else.”

The shooter did not conceal his weapon upon entering the school, Sack said.

“When he came in, it was out… there was no mystery about what was going to happen. He pulled it out and entered in an aggressive and violent manner,” the police commissioner said.

Law enforcement at the scene of a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School on Monday, October 24, 2022 in St. Louis.

There were seven security personnel at the school when the shooter arrived, according to St. Louis Public Schools communications director George Sells.

“We had all seven staff working in the building who did a terrific job of sounding the alarm quickly,” Sells said.

The police commissioner said he did not know if the school security guards had firearms. “Not all public safety security guards are armed,” he said.

He said the school doors were locked, which likely delayed the suspect.

“The school was closed and the doors locked. Security personnel did an outstanding job identifying the suspect’s efforts to gain entry, and immediately notified other personnel and ensured we were contacted,” Sack told CNN affiliate KMOV on premises.

The commissioner said responding officers wasted no time rushing into the school.

“There was no sidewalk lecture, there was no discussion, there was no ‘Hey, where are you going? they just walked in.

The call came in for an active shooter at the high school around 9:11 a.m., according to a schedule provided by Sack. Police arrived on the scene and entered just four minutes later at 9:15 a.m. Officers found the shooter and “began to engage him in a shootout” at 9:23 a.m. Two minutes later, officers reported that the suspect was down.

Asked about the eight minutes between officers’ arrival and contact with the shooter, Sack said ‘eight minutes is not very long’ and officers had to maneuver through a large school with few entrances and a crowd of evacuating students and staff.

Officers found the suspect “not only by hearing the gunshots, but by talking to the children and teachers as they left,” Sack said.

Officers who were at a church down the street for another officer’s funeral also responded to the shooting, in addition to officers from a nearby police station, according to the commissioner.

A SWAT team that was together for a training exercise was also able to quickly load up and get to the school to perform a secondary sweep of the building, Sack added.

Some officers were “off duty; some were in T-shirts, but they had their vests on… the ballistic vests. So they did an amazing job,” he said.

As phone calls came in from people hiding in different locations, officers fanned out and searched for students and staff to escort them out of the building.

Fire department vehicles seen following a high school shooting on October 24, 2022.

Adrianne Bolden, a freshman at Central High School VPA, told the CNN affiliate KSDKComment that the kids thought it was a drill until they heard the sirens and saw that their teachers were scared.

“The teacher, she crawled out and she was asking for help moving the lockers to the door so they couldn’t get in,” Bolden said. “And we started hearing glass breaking from outside and gunshots outside the door.”

The student told the station that the class stayed put until they saw their vice principal approach one of the locked classroom windows.

“We opened it, the teacher said come over and we all had to jump out the window,” Bolden recalled.

Math teacher David Williams told CNN on a call that everyone had gone into “exercise mode”, turning off lights, locking doors and huddled in corners so they wouldn’t be seen.

He said he heard someone trying to open the door and a man shouting, “You’re all going to die.”

Shortly after, a bullet went through one of the windows in her classroom, Williams said.

Williams’ classroom is located on the third floor, where Sack said police hired the shooter.

Eventually an officer announced himself from outside and the class ran through the nearby fire escape doors.

Correction: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong age for 15-year-old Alexandria Bell, who was killed in the shooting.