In St. Louis School Shooting, 'Miles Davis' Warning Helped

Code in announcement alerted teachers of a threat
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2022 11:05 AM CDT
In St. Louis School Shooting, a Coded Warning Helped
People embrace in the Schnucks Arsenal parking lot following a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis on Monday.   (Jordan Opp/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

It took four minutes for officers to enter Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis on Monday following reports of an active shooter. "There was no sidewalk conference, there was no discussion," Police Commissioner Michael Sack said, per CNN. "They just went right in." The shooter, identified as 19-year-old Orlando Harris, was killed, along with two victims identified as 61-year-old health and physical education teacher Jean Kuczka, who was looking forward to retirement in a few years, and 15-year-old student Alexandria Bell, an outgoing member of the junior varsity dance team who would've turned 16 in a month, per KSDK. Seven other students, ages 15 to 16, were injured, though all are in stable condition, per ABC News.

School security officers sounded the alarm after seeing the shooter trying to access locked doors. Sack wouldn't say how the 2021 graduate got beyond them but noted it was "in an aggressive, violent manner," per CNN. Teacher Ashley Rench told the AP she heard a bang before the school's intruder code—"Miles Davis is in the building"—came over the intercom. Though some students thought it was a drill—one told KDSK that he walked out into the hallway, unconcerned—teachers sprang into action and the threat became real. Freshman Jawae Bronner said a visual arts teacher immediately locked the classroom door and moved students into a closet, per NBC News. Student Adrienne Bolden said a teacher asked for help moving lockers to barricade his classroom door.

Sack said it could have been a "much worse" situation if not for security staff and officers, who "did an outstanding job," per CNN. He said police received a call at 9:11am, entered the school at 9:15am, and located the shooter by 9:23am "not just by hearing the gunfire but by talking to kids and teachers as they're leaving." After a gunfight, officers reported the shooter was down at 9:25am, Sack said. He added "it's very easy to get guns" in Missouri, where people "can carry them openly down any street, and there's really nothing we can do," per ABC. In denouncing the "senseless violence," the White House called for more action to prevent gun deaths. CNN reports there have been at least 67 shootings on school property in the US so far this year. (More school shooting stories.)

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