Teachers recount shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts high school: 'It's traumatizing'

two ambulances sit with a gurney between them, a crowd of people, some cops, gather behind
Photo credit Stuart McMillian/KMOX

Three people are dead after a shooting at Central Visual & Performing Arts high school in St. Louis Monday morning. The shooter, plus an adult woman and one teenage girl, have died, and five others were injured.

KMOX heard from some eyewitnesses on the scene. Ashley Rench, a math teacher, told KMOX that when she heard the first gunshot, she didn’t think much of it. She thought it was one of the lawnmowers making noise with one of their metal trailers. But then, the active shooter code word came over the intercom.

“I looked at my kids and told them, ‘Get to the corner.’ And then I went to my email to go, ‘Oh, do we have a drill today?’ Not knowing like, ‘Hey, did we get an email about a drill?’” Rench said. “Well, then, we started hearing more bangs. And we're like, this is not a drill. This is real. And shortly after the fire alarm got pulled. The students at first wanted to jump up and I yelled at them to get back down and not to move.”

Rench and her sophomore class heard as the shooter tried to get into her classroom, but eventually moved on. They heard more shots in the third-floor classroom next to them and in the hallway.

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She also watched as students tried to escape out of a third-floor window.

“They were crying, there was blood all over their clothes,” she said. “I looked at one student’s leg and she had blood going down, so I helped her to the ambulance. One of those students who got out before that had been shot through the hand, so they were already wrapping his hand up.”

The third-floor window was quite the jump. Rench said one student who jumped broke both their ankles, and another one may have broken her nose.

“Other than that, they walked away with their lives,” she said.

“It’s traumatizing, traumatizing for the teachers, the students and the families that the kids have to go home to,” Rench added.

Ray Parks, a dance teacher at the school, said the shooter came into his classroom.

“He looked directly at me, pointed the gun at me, then pointed the gun away from me toward the ground,” Parks said. “I ran and got students out and got him out of there, but I don’t know what he had done in the hall because I heard shooting and stuff.”

Parks said he’s still trying to process the events.

“It’s just so hard to get over. I can’t understand why I didn’t get hurt,” he said. “That’s what I gotta figure out. He looked at me and then looked away and let me run.”

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Featured Image Photo Credit: stuart mcmilian/kmox