A 19-year-old gunman who shot dead two people on Monday at a St Louis high school had 600 rounds of ammunition and the rapid response by police prevented an even more “horrific scene,” the city police chief said.
Orlando Harris, who graduated last year from Central Visual & Performing Arts High School, was killed by police officers who responded swiftly to the attack at the school.
St Louis police chief Mike Sack said Harris was armed with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle and had multiple magazines of ammunition strapped to his chest and in a bag that he was carrying.
“It appears that he came into the building with more than 600 rounds of ammunition on his person,” Sack said at a press conference on Tuesday. “600 rounds is a lot of ammunition.”
“This could have been a horrific scene,” Sack said. “It was not, by the grace of God.”
According to police, armed officers responded within four minutes to the report of an “active shooter” at the school and killed Harris in an exchange of gunfire.
Sack also said a handwritten document had been found in Harris’s car in which he expressed a desire to “conduct the school shooting.”
“I don’t have any friends. I don’t have any family,” he quoted the document as saying. “I’ve never had a girlfriend. I’ve never had a social life. I’ve been an isolated loner my entire life.
“This was the perfect storm for a mass shooter,” it said.
A 61-year-old physical education teacher and a 16-year-old student were killed in the attack and seven other people were injured.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones also attended the press conference and said mass shootings in the United States constitute a “public health crisis that requires federal action.”
“The scourge of gun violence that continues to claim the lives of our children and families in their communities is a national emergency,” Jones said.
In May, a teenage gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Days earlier, a young white man killed 10 Black people in a racist attack in a supermarket in New York state.
Those shootings helped galvanize support for the first significant bill on gun safety in decades, which President Joe Biden signed into law in June.
It included enhanced background checks for younger buyers and federal cash for states introducing “red flag” laws that allow courts to temporarily remove weapons from people who are considered a threat.
But the measure fell far short of an assault weapons ban sought by Biden.