Remembering 2 victims killed in Missouri school shooting
ST. LOUIS (KMOV/Gray News) - A mom, a gym teacher and a cross-country coach; an aspiring dancer, weeks away from her 16th birthday. Those were the victims that were killed in the Central Visual and Performing Arts school shooting in Missouri on Monday morning.
“She was a ray of sunshine to everyone,” said Andre Bell, father of shooting victim Alexandria Bell. “To know her is to know happiness. To know her is to know caring and compassion. My daughter is everything. If you knew her, you knew the true meaning of happiness.”
Andre Bell remembered his daughter in an interview.
“You know how everybody says your child has a little piece of you or you been around somebody for so long they begin to act like you,” Andre Bell said. “That’s what it was.”
Derek Rapp met Jean Kuczka, the other victim of the school shooting, through charity bike rides that raised money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“She stepped forward instead of stepping back, and she did that time and time again,” Rapp said.
He said he wasn’t surprised when he heard from Kuczka’s loved ones that said she sacrificed her own life to protect her students during the deadly shooting.
“When it was time to sign up for a ride, she was one of the first people to sign up. She did it with conviction, zeal, and that’s apparently the same way she finished things in order to save lives for students,” Rapp said.
Both victims were killed when 19-year-old Orlando Harris entered the school that morning and began shooting, authorities said.
According to Central Visual and Performing Arts principal Kacy Shahid, when the school day started on Monday, Alexandria Bell’s mom stopped by campus to drop off her daughter’s glasses that she left at home.
“So, when Alex got off the bus, I asked her, ‘Aren’t you going to need these? Because you can’t see without those.’ And we shared an exchange about how did you get them,” said Shahid. “And I explained how Mom brought her glasses.”
Two hours later, Harris shot Alexandria Bell and Kuczka to death.
On top of her teaching duties, Kuczka coached cross-country and led the student council.
Kuczka was a wife, mother of five and grandmother of six.
“All of her children and her grandchildren, she loved them dearly,” said Shahid. “She will be greatly missed by our school community and by the entire student body.”
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