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St. Louis school shooter bought gun from private seller after dealer sale was blocked, police say

An FBI background check stopped the shooter, who killed two people, from buying a gun at a licensed dealer, police said.
Law enforcement investigate the scene of a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School Monday, Oct. 24, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Law enforcement investigate a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis on Monday.Jeff Roberson / AP

The shooter who killed two people at a St. Louis high school this week bought the rifle used in the attack from a private seller after he was blocked from buying a gun at a licensed dealer, police said Thursday.

Two people — Jean Kuczka, 61, a health teacher, and student Alexzandria Bell, 15 — were killed in the shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School on Monday, officials said.

The 19-year-old shooter was pronounced dead after a gunfight with police.

“On 10/8/22, the suspect attempted to buy a firearm from a licensed dealer in St. Charles, Missouri. An FBI background check successfully blocked this sale,” St. Louis Police Sgt. Charles Wall said in a statement.

“As a result, the suspect sought out and bought the rifle used in the school shooting from a private seller, who legally purchased the weapon from a federally licensed dealer in December 2020,” the police statement said.

Police did not say why the gunman, Orlando Harris, was blocked from buying a weapon by an FBI background check.

The police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Police said no law would have prevented the sale from the private seller to the suspect in this case.

Police have described the gun as an AR-style .223-caliber rifle.

The gunman, who graduated from the school last year, had over 600 rounds of ammunition and left a note referring to mass shootings, police have said.

He entered the school around 9 a.m. Monday with the gun in what interim St. Louis Police Chief Mike Sack has said was an “aggressive, violent manner.” The suspect had seven magazines of ammunition on a chest rig and eight more in a field bag he carried, Sack said.

More coverage of St. Louis school shooting

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  • "I need to stay alive": Student describes fleeing the St. Louis high school shooting.

He had mental health issues, and his family got him professional help, Sack has said.

The family called police on Oct. 15 after they found he had a gun and wanted it removed, police have said.

The family “worked with our department to transfer that to an adult who could legally possess one,” Sack said at a news conference Wednesday.

The gunman's mother has been fully cooperative with police, and “she is heartbroken for the families of this incident, for the school and the alumni," Sack said.

Police said Thursday that Missouri does not have a "red flag" law and that "officers did not have clear authority to temporarily seize the rifle when they responded to the suspect’s home when called by the suspect’s mother" on Oct. 15.

Red flag laws are laws that allow authorities to take guns from people deemed to be risks to themselves or others. Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., have such laws.