New details reveal multiple police visits were made to gunman’s home prior to school shooting

It was also determined the suspect bought the gun used in the shooting from a private seller.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 7:28 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - New details have surfaced on the gunman involved in Monday’s shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School and Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience.

On Wednesday, St. Louis Metropolitan Police officials and city leaders gave an update on the shooting. Interim Police Chief Michael Sack confirms, despite some initial rumors circulating online, there was only one gunman involved in the shooting.

“We’ve determined there’s only going to be one shooter in this incident, and that shooter is deceased,” said Sack.

The suspect Orlando Harris’s family has also been cooperating with police in its investigation. Police said his family is devastated that his struggles with mental health have led to the death of two people and seven others injured.

“The impression that I get from the investigators who spoke to the mother is that they’ve done everything that they could’ve possibly done, but sometimes that is not enough,” said Sack.

Harris’s family told police they had sought mental health treatment for him on several occasions, put him on medication, and even monitored his mail and whereabouts as he struggled with mental illness.

Sack says the gunman’s family was aware that he had acquired a weapon at some point. While he could not say exactly when, Sack says it was sometime in the last few months when police worked with the family to transfer the weapon out of his hands.

“What they did is they contacted us and said that he had a firearm,” said Sack. “It could’ve possibly been this gun. The officers in their response handed it over to somebody else, an adult that was lawfully able to possess it. The mother at the time wanted it out of the house, so they facilitated that… this other party had it. How he acquired it after that we don’t know. That’s what we’re looking into.”

Police have now confirmed that the weapon taken from Harris was the same weapon used in Monday’s shooting. It is, at this time, still unclear how he got the gun back.

Police said in a press release Wednesday the gunman legally owned the weapon.

News 4 dug into police records that show officers went into the shooter’s house just days before the tragedy at Central VPA on October 15 for a “domestic disturbance.” Police late Wednesday night later confirmed this was the incident in which Chief Sack had discussed during the press conference.

Yet, this is not the only time police have been called to his home.

In all, police records show officers were called to the shooter’s house at least six times. Two times were this past July, one for an accident and the other for a suicide attempt. There are no police reports for either call.

Last year, police were called to the home three times, including for something involving a weapon. Another call was for the Crisis Response Unit.

“Mental health is a terrible thing, and we can’t anticipate what will come, but that family appears to have done everything they could’ve possibly done to try to help this young man live with his mental health issues,” said Sack.

Police said they have shared the serial number of the weapon used in the shooting with the ATF, which is working to perform a trace on it from the manufacturer to the original seller of the weapon.

A spokesperson for SLMPD later said the suspect attempted to buy a gun from a licensed dealer in St. Charles but an FBI background check blocked the sale. He then went to a private seller and bought a gun that way.

“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,” Sgt. Charles Wall with SLMPD said in an email. “There is no existing law which would have prevented the private sale between the original purchaser and the suspect in this case. The State of Missouri does not have a red flag law. That means SLMPD 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 10/15/22.”