Shooting At Stevens Institute Of Business & Arts in St. Louis

Jan 15, 2013
Originally published on January 17, 2013 4:51 pm

Updated at 3:35 p.m. on 1/16/13

The St. Louis circuit attorneys's office has identified the shooter at the Stevens Institute of Business and Arts as 34-year-old Sean Johnson, a male from the city of St. Louis. He faces three felonies and a misdemeanor in connection with the shooting of Greg Elsenrath, the financial aid director at the school. The charges are:

  • Assault 1st degree with serious physical injury (Class A felony)
  • Armed criminal action (for the use of a gun in the commission of a crime - felony)
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm (Class B felony)
  • Possession of a defaced firearm (Class B misdemeanor)

The circuit attorney's office says Johnson, a part-time student at the school, had a heated exchange with Elsenrath on Monday over financial aid. Johnson returned to SIBA on Tuesday with a handgun that had a serial number scratched off, and again discussed his aid with Elsenrath in the administrator's office. 

Johnson reportedly briefly left the office, then returned and shot Elsenrath once in the chest, then fled into a stairwell. Police found Johnson there, suffering from a gunshot wound to his side, reportedly self-inflicted. The gun was recovered with three more bullets inside.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson says Johnson’s case is a textbook example of the need for stricter gun laws.

“He has a history that we were aware of, both in the city and the county, with some convictions,” says Dotson.  “It’s very concerning to me how he was able to obtain a fire arm and then ultimately use it yesterday. 

Police say Johnson used a Tec-9 semi-automatic pistol with the serial number filed off—the same type of weapon used in the 1999 Columbine school massacre.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says the incident proves what he and other big city mayors have been saying all along—that the status quo of gun regulation in the United States is not working.

“We have a state that is awash in guns, has very lax gun laws,” notes Slay.  “The other thing is, federal and state have cut back significantly in mental health services and we’ve seen that in our prison population.”

Both Johnson and his victim, financial aid director Greg Elsenrath , are hospitalized in critical, but stable condition.

Johnson has prior convictions in the city for drug possession and trafficking, and is on probation in St. Louis County for assault and unlawful use of a weapon.

From previous story on Tuesday, 1-15-13

Chief Dotson says the first officers on scene secured the perimeter of the building and immediately evacuated the students and faculty inside. They found the administrator in a fourth-floor office during an initial sweep of the building.  The shooter was found in a stairwell with the suspected weapon in the shooting.

"They did an outstanding job of securing the perimeter, of taking the victims and the witnesses as they were coming out to safety, and then beginning the floor-by-floor search to make sure everyone else was safe," Dotson said of the initial responders.

He says most officers on the force underwent active shooter training after the 2008 workplace shootings at ABB, a manufacturer in north St. Louis.

Updated 4:46 to correct suspect's age:

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has Tweeted a correction to their earlier report that the suspect is in his early 20s. They now say that the suspect is in his mid 30s.

Updated 4:21 p.m.:

Stevens Institute of Business & Arts says on its Twitter feed and Facebook page that it will be "closed until Tuesday, January 22nd at 8am."

Update 3:58 p.m.:

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said on Twitter that the suspect is in his early 20s and is in critical condition, and that the victim is in "critical/stable condition."

Police Chief Sam Dotson said that a handgun was the weapon used in the shooting.

Earlier story:

A student at the Stevens Institute of Business & Arts allegedly shot an administrator this afternoon then turned the gun on himself.

Police received a call around 2:30 this afternoon of shots fired.

Chief Sam Dotson says the alleged shooter is a part-time student. He said the school administrator is a man in his 40s. 

Both men currently are in surgery.

St. Louis SWAT teams combed the building, and police say the scene is secure. Stevens’ students were evacuated from the building and are being interviewed off site.

We’ll have more on this story throughout the afternoon.

Original Story:

Several news organizations are reporting that there was a shooting at the Stevens Institute Of Business & Arts at 1521 Washington Ave.  

St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann is on the scene and will have updates as they become available, follow her on Twitter for the latest.  

The St. Louis Post Dispatch is reporting that the suspected shooter, a 21-year-old male, has reportedly shot himself. 

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