Teacher, student killed at CVPA were each shot once, St. Louis Medical Examiner says

Dr. Michael Graham told News 4 his preliminary findings on Tuesday.
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 3:23 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2022 at 5:54 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A preliminary report by the St. Louis Medical Examiner is providing new information about the injuries suffered by those who died during the shooting at Central Visual Performing Arts High School (CVPA) last month.

Dr. Michael Graham told News 4 Investigates the victims, student Alexandria Bell and teacher Jean Kuczka, each died of a single gunshot wound.

The shooter, 19-year-old Orlando Harris, was shot “several” times, according to Dr. Graham, by law enforcement with at least one handgun and a high-velocity rifle. He was unable to say how many times Harris was shot, because the frangible ammunition is designed to break apart upon impact.

Harris was identified as the perpetrator of the shooting that took place at the Central Visual Performing Arts on Monday, Oct. 24.

According to police, 15-year-old Bell was pronounced deceased on the scene. Kuczka was taken to a hospital but died there.

Dr. Graham said Tuesday his findings are only preliminary, and he is still awaiting toxicology and other reports before issuing his final analysis.

However, based on autopsies, Graham said Bell was shot one time, that resulted in injuries to her arm and chest. The wound, he said, would not have been immediately fatal.

Kuczka was also shot only one time, in the abdomen, according to Graham. Her injury would not have been immediately fatal, either, he said.

Graham was unable to determine what either victim was doing immediately before they were shot.

He also could not determine what position Harris’ body was in when he was shot, whether he was laying down or standing. Harris’ injuries also would not be immediately fatal, according to Dr. Graham.

From his autopsy, Harris appeared to be a healthy individual with only a few scrapes on his body and no other injuries. However, Dr. Graham said existence of mental health illness or disorders would not be apparent on an autopsy.

Dr. Graham told News 4 Investigates the presence of frangible ammunition is common in incidents in which law enforcement shoots a suspect. It is designed to break apart on impact with a person or an object so that it cannot pierce walls or other objects that might be protecting other victims.

In response to questions about the preliminary autopsy report, St. Louis police said they do not issue frangible ammunition to their officers, but their patrol rifles do use ammo that will fragment upon impact. News 4 also learned from police that eight officers discharged firearms that day, but one was to breach a locked gate.