A gunman broke into a high school in the US city of St. Louis, Missouri on Monday, fatally shooting a woman and a teenage girl and wounding six others before police killed him in an exchange of gunfire.
The shooting occurred just after 9:00 local time (16:00 CEST) at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. Students were forced to barricade doors and huddle in classroom corners, jump from windows and run out of the building to seek safety. One girl said recounted how she found herself eye-to-eye with the shooter before his gun apparently jammed and she was able to run out.
Others inside the school said they heard the shooter declare: "You are all going to die". The city’s police chief said fast actions by a security guard and police officers who "ran to the gunfire" helped end the shooting before more people were killed or hurt.
Speaking at a news conference, Commissioner Michael Sack said the shooter was about 20 years old but did not provide a name for him or his victims. He declined to say if the woman killed was a teacher.
“[O]n paper we might have nine victims... [but] we have hundreds of others," he said. "Everyone who survived this is going to take home trauma."
"It was that timely response by that security officer, the fact that the door did cause pause for the suspect, that bought us some time," Sack added.
St. Louis Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams said seven security guards were in the school at the time, each at an entry point of the locked building. One of the guards noticed the man trying to get in at a locked door, but couldn’t. The guard notified school officials and ensured police were contacted, Sack said.
The attack was one of dozens in US schools this year which have been fatal or led to injuries. One of the deadliest took place in May, when a gunman killed 19 children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas.
In that rampage, police and other law enforcement officers were criticised 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.