St. Louis high schooler describes “panic” erupting during a school shooting


A student at St. Louis High School, where a gunman shot dead a student and a teacher on Monday, described lying on the floor of a classroom in prayer as bullets ricocheted down the hallways.

Zaria, a senior at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, told Fox 2 Now that at first she didn’t believe there could be a shooting at her school – but then she heard gunfire and it all quickly became real.

“Panic spread in my heart,” Zaria told local broadcaster. “We had kids who were crying … I couldn’t get up to defend myself because the shots came too close.”

Zaria was in a counselor’s office around 9:10 a.m. when the gunman, who was later identified by police as 19-year-old Orlando Harris, opened fire with a long gun and reportedly shouted, “You’re all going to be damned.” die!”

A student ran into the counselor’s room and yelled that someone was shooting, and then the principal said the code word to signal that there was an active gunman in the building was over the intercom, she said.

The shooter, later identified as 19-year-old Orlando Harris, was shot dead by police.

Police cars gather Monday, October 24, 2022 at Arsenal and Kingshighway at the scene of a shooting at the CVPA and Collegiate high schools.

Seven people were injured in the school shooting.

Zaria said they pushed a large bookcase in front of the door when shots rang out outside the room.

She recorded the sound of the gunshots on her phone while praying on the floor of the room.

“My teacher told me to lie on the floor, so I did that until the cops came and got us,” Zaria told Fox 2.

Officers arrived at the school within four minutes of receiving the active shooter’s call and opened fire on the suspect, killing him at 9:25 p.m., police said.

Zaria, a student at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, talks to a reporter about the school shooting
Zaria, a student at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, said she was praying on the floor of a room during the school shooting.

“While I was there, I held my Jesus piece and prayed,” Zaria said. “Because there was nothing I could do but pray.”

Zaria’s mother told the local station that she had dropped her other daughter off at school just half an hour before the shooting.

She received a frantic call from her younger daughter, who was “screaming and crying” that there was a shooter at school.

“Now it’s a hit with me — for all the school shootings I’ve seen on TV — it’s unreal,” she said. “I just got here as quickly as possible. Thank God they are fine.”

16-year-old student Alexis Bell and 61-year-old gym teacher Jean Kuczka were both killed in the bloody rampage. Seven others were injured.

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