St. Louis School Shooter's Gun Was Taken Away, Family Intervened

Police say Orlando Harris' family did all they could, but sometimes that's "not enough"

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click to enlarge School shooting suspect Orlando Harris' weapon. - KMOV Livestream
School shooting suspect Orlando Harris' weapon.

The family of Orlando Harris were aware of his weapon and mental health struggles before Monday’s shooting at a south city high school, police say.

Harris’ family had connected him to mental health professionals and put him on medication. His mother at one point removed his gun from their house.

St. Louis Interim Police Commissioner Mike Sack said today during a press conference that Harris’ mother and adult sister have been fully cooperative in their investigation into the school shooting and are “heartbroken” by Harris’ actions.

“The family appears to have done everything they could have possibly done to help this young man live with his mental health issues,” Sack said.

When Harris acquired a firearm, his family had worked with the police department to transfer the gun to someone who could legally possess it, Sack said.

Sack believes this gun could be the weapon Harris used Monday to kill two people in Central Visual and Performing Arts High School and injure several others. Sack could not recall when Harris’ mother called police about the gun.

Harris’ family had him committed on some occasions. His mother and sister had a system to track what came in the mail for Harris and made sure he interacted with others “to try to ensure that he’s engaging [with] people, that he feels loved,” according to Sack.

Yesterday, police revealed a portion of Harris’ manifesto, in which he wrote he’d been “an isolated loner” his whole life with no social life, friends or girlfriend and no family.

Police, at this point, are unsure how long Harris had the AR-15 style rifle he used Monday. Authorities are currently trying to trace how and when Harris purchased the weapon.

Sack confirmed Harris was the only shooter involved in Monday’s incident.

Agent Jay Greenberg with the FBI said his agency has since received numerous hoax threats.

Fake shooting threats are generally easy to investigate, Greenberg said. However, due to the large volume of hoax threats made in the past couple of days “your students who are in school across the metro region are seeing an increase in police presence in each one of their schools.”

The volume of hoax threats has been so great that the FBI has not been able to identify every single threat, so authorities have deployed local police throughout schools, “which means additional trauma for students.”

Greenburg asked for parents to talk to their children to help bring the hoax threats down.

About The Author

Monica Obradovic

Monica Obradovic is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times.
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