A few months ago, a 19-year-old gunman opened fire in St. Petersburg on Monday. While at St. Louis High School, his family told police he had a gun and had removed it from the home, officials said Wednesday.
The family knew the gunman had mental health issues and did “everything they could” to help him – including putting him in treatment, medication, and putting him in jail multiple times – but, “sometimes it’s not enough,” Temporary St. Louis. St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Michael Sack said at a news conference.
The chief did not disclose how the gunman obtained the AR-15-style rifle after police dismantled a weapon months before the shooting at the Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. He also declined to discuss how the gunman got into the school, despite its locked doors, security and metal detectors.
“Every building has weaknesses,” Sack said, adding that sharing the details of how the shooter got into the school could have a detrimental effect on the district.
However, he said the gunman, Orlando Harris, 19, did “force into” the building.
Shooter’s mother wants gun ‘out of the house’
Sack said the gunman’s family “knew” he had the gun, but it wasn’t clear when he got it. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is investigating to trace the source of the firearm sales.
“[The family] Work with our department to transfer it to an adult who can legally have it,” the chief said.
He said he believed the family contacted police with a gun that may have been the same AR-15-style rifle he used in the school shooting.
“[The family] Contacted us and said he had a gun, which I believe might be the gun. The officer in response gave it to someone else, an adult who legally possessed it,” Sack said.
It is unclear to whom the firearms were transferred or their relationship to their families.
“The mother wanted to take it out of the house, so they brokered it and the party had it. How he got it after that, we don’t know. We’re looking into it,” he said.
Sack said interactions with the gunman’s family and police likely occurred within the past few months, although he did not know the exact date.
family’made every effort’ Helping Sagittarius’ Mental Health
Sack said the gunman’s family has been cooperating with police.
“The mother, the grown daughter, they work with him. They have a system that tracks what might be in the mail, his interactions with other people, and trying to make sure he’s interacting with people that makes him feel loved,” he said.
The gunman left a note calling himself a loner and mentioning a mass shooting, who died after a firefight with law enforcement.
Health teacher Jean Kuzka, 61, and student Alexandria Bell, 15, were killed in the shooting, officials said.
“Mental health is a difficult thing. It’s hard to tell when someone is violent and will act,” Sack said.
“I have to commend the family for doing everything they deem reasonable,” he continued. “That’s why the mother is so heartbroken to the families who paid for his incident.”