A teacher narrowly missed a bullet during the St. Louis school shooting and ran to safety – only to discover that his son had been wounded in the rampage.
Manfret McGhee, the dean of arts at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, told KSDK that he was in a meeting Monday morning when he heard an announcement about an active shooter.
“I stepped into the hallway to find out a little more about what was going on and at that moment the shooter was in the hallway and fired a shot at myself and another coworker,” he told the station.
McGhee ran for cover and hunkered in a bathroom as shots rang out. When he felt safe enough to come out, he learned that his 16-year-old son Anthony had been shot during health class, KSDK reported.
“When I first saw him, I saw a massive hole in his pant leg and all I could think of was, ‘My God! What did he get shot with?’” he told the outlet Tuesday night.
“I wore a suit to work this morning, so I took my belt off to stop some of the bleeding,” the dad added after Anthony got out of surgery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
McGhee said his son had told him that the gunman shot out the glass on the locked classroom door, barged inside and opened fire.
“My son did not jump out the window, but he helped some students get out of the window,” he said.
McGhee recounted how he became overwhelmed with emotion when he saw the fear in Anthony’s eyes as he waited to be evacuated.
“But I had to hold it together for him, I had to be strong for him,” he told KSDK.
The parent praised first responders for their swift action amid the chaos.
“In most of the tragedies I’ve seen play out on TV in many parts of the country, their outcomes have been much more severe than our outcome,” McGhee said.
“I need to let everyone know that St. Louis Public Schools and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s response time was crucial to this not being worse than it was,” he said.
“What I saw today was not normally what I have seen in these situations. The quickness of the response was crucial,” McGhee added.
The gunman, 19-year-old Orlando Harris, killed physical education teacher Jean Kuczka, 61, and 10th-grader Alexandria Bell, 15, in the rampage before he was shot dead in a shoot-out with cops. Anthony was among the seven others injured.
Harris, who was armed with enough ammo to kill hundreds, left a manifesto-like note in his car calling his lonely life a “perfect storm for a mass shooter.”
“He wrote, ‘I don’t have any friends. I don’t have any family. I’ve never had a girlfriend. I’ve never had a social life. I’ve been an isolated loner my entire life. This was the perfect storm for a mass shooter,’” Commissioner Michael Sack said Tuesday, reading from the note.
McGhee said he remembered Harris, a graduate of the school, saying, “He was a somewhat quiet student, kind of like a gamer. He was into video games.”
He also said he worked with the murdered teacher.
“She had worked there longer than I had, and I’ve known her all this time,” McGhee told KSDK. “I just saw her Monday morning on her way in to work. She was a beautiful soul … a wonderful soul.”