St Louis: Student and teacher killed in school shooting

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People embrace outside the schoolImage source, Reuters
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Students were forced to barricade classrooms, jump from windows and run from the building to escape the shooting

A student and a teacher have been killed in a shooting at a high school in St Louis, Missouri that ended with the gunman being shot dead by police.

The attack at the Central Visual & Performing Arts High School on Monday also left seven injured, with others reporting narrow escapes.

The gunman has been identified as a 19-year-old former student.

Police say he was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and was carrying hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

The two victims were identified as student Alexandria Bell, 15, and Jean Kuczka, a 61-year old physical education teacher.

The seven injured - three girls and four boys - all had non-life-threatening injuries, according to local media.

Police are still investigating potential motives. A handwritten note left at the scene by the gunman attempted to explain his reasoning for the shooting, police said, and referenced feelings of unhappiness.

On Tuesday, St Louis Police Chief Michael Sack said the gunman was carrying more than 600 rounds of ammunition. Some were strapped to his chest, while others were found in a bag or had been dumped in the school's stairwells.

"This could have been much worse," he said, adding that he was urging people to come forward if they know of someone suffering from mental distress or who is speaking about "causing harm to others".

FBI agents are now helping the investigation.

During the attack, students were forced to barricade classrooms, jump from windows and run from the building to escape.

One student told the KMOV local news station that the attacker had walked up to a friend and asked her: "You ready to die?"

Raven Terry said: "We just ran real, real fast... and we were just crying, all shaken up about it."

Taniya Gholston, 16, told the St Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper that the gunman had entered her classroom and tried to shoot her.

"I was trying to run and I couldn't run," she said. "Me and him made eye contact but I made it out because his gun got jammed."

She said she overheard the attacker saying "I'm tired of this damn school".

Police said the gunman graduated last year from the school and had no history of criminal behaviour.

One of the victims, Jean Kuczka, had taught at the school since 2008, according to an online biography, and was a grandmother of seven.

"My mom loved kids," her daughter Abigail Kuczka told the Post-Dispatch, adding that she had died protecting her students.

The second victim, 15-year-old Alexandria Bell, was just a month away from her 16th birthday.

"My daughter was planning on coming out here to California and celebrate her birthday with me," her father Andre Bell told local TV network KSDK. "But now we have to plan her funeral".

The seven students wounded in the attack are all either 15 or 16 years old and are in stable condition.

Mr Sack said that four suffered gunshot or graze wounds, while two had bruises and one apparently broke an ankle after jumping from a third-floor window.

"Our children shouldn't have to experience this," St Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said at a news conference after the shooting.

"They shouldn't have to go through active shooter drills in case something happens. And unfortunately, that happened today."

Data from the Education Week outlet show there have been at least 35 school shootings, in which at least one person was killed or injured, so far this year.

Earlier on Monday, a teenager in Michigan pleaded guilty to 24 charges, including terrorism and first-degree murder, after a rampage at his high school last November.

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