UPDATE: School shooting in St. Louis; student charged
Web Producer: Lucy Valencia, Assignment Desk Editor
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A St. Louis college student who was charged Wednesday with shooting an administrator in a dispute over financial aid has a history of mental illness and may not have been arrested after his probation for a 2009 knife attack was revoked in May.
Prosecutors charged 34-year-old Sean Johnson with first-degree assault, armed criminal action and two firearms violations in Tuesday's attack at the Stevens Institute of Business & Art. He doesn't have an attorney yet and a woman who answered the phone at his home declined an interview request.
Investigators say Johnson, a part-time student, shot the school's financial aid director, Greg Elsenrath, once in the chest during a meeting in Elsenreth's fourth-floor office, then shot himself in the torso. The school said the two had a heated exchange on Monday during a meeting about Johnson's financial aid.
Both men underwent surgery Tuesday. Authorities haven't said how Johnson is faring, but the school posted on its Facebook page Wednesday that Elsenrath "came through surgery last night with flying colors and is expected to make a full recovery."
"This unimaginable act of violence has proved the strength of our bonds as a Siba family and we intend to come out of this event with those bonds intact and stronger than ever," the posting said.
The gunshots sent teachers, administrators and the roughly 40 students in the five-story building scrambling for safety. Some of those who couldn't get out took cover under desks or in closets until officers arrived, police Chief Sam Dotson said.
According to the probable cause statement, police found Johnson in a stairwell between the third and fourth floors, bleeding from a wound in his side. His 9mm handgun, with three rounds still inside, was found nearby.
As a convicted felon, Johnson is prohibited from owning or handling a gun, which accounts for one of the new firearms charges. The other stems from the scratched-out serial number on the weapon, according to prosecutors.
Until last spring, Johnson was serving five years' probation for trying to slash a cabby with a box cutter in 2009 while they were driving on Interstate 70 in St. Louis County. The cab crashed into the median, and Johnson and the driver engaged in a struggle until police arrived, according to court records. Johnson pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and a weapons charge, and was ordered to remain on a medication for an undisclosed mental illness.
Then in May, Johnson's probation was revoked, although court records don't indicate why. A warrant was issued for his arrest three days after his probation was revoked, but court records don't indicate if he was ever arrested.
Johnson's attorney at the time, Eric Barnhart, said Wednesday that Johnson was a productive part of society "when he was taking his medication," but struggled when off of it. Barnhart said he is not currently representing Johnson and declined to disclose the mental health condition or comment further.
The probable cause statement said Johnson also had prior convictions for drug trafficking and drug possession.
The school's website said Elsenrath has a bachelor's degree from Missouri Valley College and an MBA from Lindenwood University. Elsenrath, of Winfield, Mo., has worked in financial aid for 15 years. Police say Elsenrath is in his 40s.
The school has about 180 students in programs including business administration, tourism and hospitality, paralegal studies, fashion, and retail and interior design. It relocated to its current building from another downtown building in 2010.
The school will be closed until 8 a.m. Tuesday. Several messages left Wednesday with the school's president, Cynthia Musterman, and members of the staff were not returned.
Email Alert Sign Up
Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.
MESA, AZ (CBS5) - Mesa police have identified the body found in a dumpster early Friday morning as a 14-year-old Mesa girl. Police said Claudia Ann Lucero was last seen at her Mesa home about 6:30 a.m.More >>
Mesa police have identified the body found in a dumpster early Friday morning as a 14-year-old Mesa girl.More >>
MESA, Ariz. (AP) - Mesa police have released the identity of a 14-year-old girl whose dead body was found in a trash container and say her death was a homicide. Police say the body of Claudia Ann LuceroMore >>
Police say the body of Claudia Ann Lucero was found early Friday and that she was last seen Thursday morning at her home.More >>
EL CENTRO, CALIF. (13 On Your Side) - Officials have released some of the names of the people arrested during Wednesday's massive drug trafficking bust in Imperial Valley. But as we previously reported,More >>
Officials have released some of the names of the people arrested during Wednesday's massive drug trafficking bust in Imperial Valley.More >>
WASHINGTON (AP) — Comet ISON, once optimistically called the comet of the century, is dead, the victim of a way-too-close brush with the sun. It was barely a year old. The comet, which excited astronomersMore >>
Comet ISON, once optimistically called the comet of the century, is dead, the victim of a way-too-close brush with the sun. It was barely a year old.More >>
YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) - A hungry cat that managed to get its head stuck in a can of dog food is freed by a firefighter in a heartwarming rescue. Two women saw the cat nearly get hit by a car inMore >>
A hungry cat that managed to get its head stuck in a can of dog food is freed by a firefighter in a heartwarming rescue.More >>
KINGMAN, Ariz. (AP) - A 32-year-old Kingman foster mother has been sentenced to 100 days in jail for the accidental bathtub drowning of an 8-month-old baby in her care. Superior Court Commissioner DerekMore >>
Sheriff's detectives said Stone found the infant face down in the tub when she returned to the bathroom after going to get a towelMore >>
SPARTA, Wis. (AP) - A former minister has been sentenced to life in prison for molesting a young boy in western Wisconsin. Sixty-six-year-old Michael Delaney, from Tomah (TOH'-mah), was convicted of sexuallyMore >>
The life sentence was mandatory because Delaney has prior sexual assault convictions.More >>