Teacher Killed in St. Louis School Shooting Saved Students: Daughter


  • Central Visual and Performing Arts High School teacher Jean Kuczka was killed in a shooting Monday. 
  • Alexandria Bell, a 15-year-old tenth grader, was also killed in the shooting, police said Tuesday.
  • Kuczka’s daughter said she was told her mother put herself between the gunman and students.

A teacher killed in a St. Louis high school shooting Monday put herself between the shooter and her students to save them, her daughter said.

Abigail Kuczka said in an interview with the Saint Louis Dispatch that she was told that her mother, Jean Kuczka, a 61-year-old physical education teacher at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, moved in front of the gunman to protect students in her classroom.

“My mom loved kids,” Abigail Kuczka told the Post-Dispatch “She loved her students. I know her students looked at her like she was their mom.”

The St. Louis Police Department said in a press release on Tuesday that Alexandria Bell, a 15-year-old tenth grader, was also killed during Monday’s shooting. 

“Alexandria was my everything,” Bell’s father, Andre Bell, told KSDK-TV. “She was joyful, wonderful, and just a great person.”

“I am so upset,” he added. “I need somebody, police, community folks, somebody to make this make sense.”

Four other students aged 15 and 16 sustained gunshot and graze wounds in the shooting, and additional students were treated for “broken bones and abrasions that they sustained while jumping out of the schools’ window,” the police department said. 

Police responding to the shooting fatally shot the gunman, the department said.

The gunman’s cause of death was confirmed as being from a gunshot wound sustained when he and police officers shot at each other inside the school, the department said.

The shooter — a former student at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School — used an AR-15-style rifle in Monday’s shooting, Police Chief Michael Sack told reporters at a media appearance Tuesday

In addition to the rifle, he brought in seven magazines of ammunition on a chest rig and another eight magazines of ammunition in a bag he was carrying, Sack said, adding that the gunman dumped further ammunition on school stairways and in school corridors on Monday.

“It appears he came into the building with more than 600 rounds of ammunition,” Sack said. 

Following the shooting, FBI agents searched the car the shooter drove to the school for evidence and found a handwritten document in which he wrote about his desire to conduct a school shooting. 

Several witnesses said they heard the shooter say “You are all going to die!” just before he opened fire, the Associated Press reported.  

“This could have been a horrific scene,” Sack said of Monday’s massacre. He said the reason it was not much worse is that more than the usual number of police officers were nearby and able to respond to the scene swiftly.

Sack said at a Monday evening press conference the first 911 call came in at 9:11 a.m. local time. Nearby officers — including some off-duty — arrived on the scene by 9:15 a.m. They located the gunman at 9:23 a.m. and shot him at 9:25 a.m. He was secured by police by 9:32 a.m. 

Sack said the school’s doors were locked at the time of the shooting but declined to reveal how the shooter got inside because he doesn’t want to “make it easy” for any future danger to breach school walls. 

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