ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – Police say a student walked into a downtown St. Louis business school and shot an administrator before turning the gun on himself on Tuesday.
The shooting happened at the Stevens Institute of Business and Arts in the 1500 block of Washington near 15th St. around 2 p.m.
According to police, Sean Johnson, 34, entered a fourth-floor office in the school and shot Greg Elsenrath, 45, director of financial aid at SIBA. Elsenrath was hit in the chest. Johnson then turned the gun on himself, shooting himself in the chest.
Police arrived within a minute of the call on the shooting. Students were huddled under desks and in closets. Elsenrath had made it to an elevator; while Johnson was found injured in a stairwell between the third and fourth floor.
“We’ve trained all of our officers in active shooter response,” St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said. Officers hurriedly escorted out students and staff and then made sure no other gunmen were inside.
Both the Johnson and Elsenrath were transported to SLU Hospital in critical condition.
Police say Johnson has a criminal history dating back to the 1990s. Officers say he currently has a probation violation out of St. Louis County for assault and unlawful use of a weapon, and a bench warrant arrest from the city of St. Louis stemming from a February incident.
According to police, Johnson threw a brick through a window of a police car while in plain view of an officer on February 12.
He was also convicted of a felony stemming from the 2009 assault of a cab driver in Bridgeton.
He pled out in that case, accepting special conditions on his probation. Per the terms of his plea, Johnson was added to the mental health caseload and ordered to take mental health medication.
According to police, SWAT units checked each floor of the school and determined the building was secure. No other victims were found.
Among the students taking refuge was 24-year-old Britanee Jones. She declined to speak to reporters, but her mother, Angae Lowery, said Jones texted a friend, who alerted Lowery.
“She sent a text message and said a gunman was in the building,” Lowery said after greeting her daughter with a screech of joy and a hug. “She saw him (the gunman) go by the classroom. “I’m so happy to see her come out of there,” Lowery said. I’m relieved.”
Washington Avenue was completely shut down beginning at 14th Street.
School officials said the school would be closed until Tuesday as it implemented an emergency plan.
Reportedly no threat was made against the school by Johnson prior to the incident. According to police, the incident stemmed from a dispute over financial aid.
Johnson's former attorney, Eric Barnhart, told News 4 his former client was a productive member of society when he was on his medication.
As proof of that, police say Johnson had attended SIBA on and off for four years. Sources say his financial aid ran out this quarter.
Police determined Johnson used a 9 mm handgun in the attack. they found the weapon in the stairwell, with the serial number scratched off.
The school, with about 180 students, is located in a historic building in the downtown’s loft district. It began as Patricia Stevens College in 1947 and offers classes in business administration, tourism and hospitality, paralegal studies, fashion, and retail and interior design.
Messages left Tuesday with the school’s telephone operator and the college’s president, Cynthia Musterman, were not immediately returned.
According to the school’s website, Elsenrath holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Ag Business from Missouri Valley College and an Master’s degree from Lindenwood University. He has worked in financial aid for more than 15 years.