A 17-year-old student pulled out a handgun at a high school in southern Maryland on Tuesday morning and wounded two classmates before being killed in an exchange of gunfire with a school resource officer, authorities said.
The gunman, Austin Wyatt Rollins, was confirmed dead at 10:41 a.m., St. Mary’s County Sheriff Timothy K. Cameron said at a news briefing.
One of the victims, a 16-year-old girl who authorities said had a “prior relationship” with the shooter, was in critical condition after being taken to a hospital from Great Mills High School, about 60 miles southeast of Washington. She was identified late Tuesday as Jaelynn Willey by her family on the crowdfunding site YouCaring, which had raised more than $30,000 for her medical expenses.
The other victim, a 14-year-old boy, was in stable condition at a hospital.
“On this day we realized our worst nightmare,” Cameron said. “Our greatest asset, our children, were attacked in … a bastion of safety and security, one of our schools.”
“The notion of ‘it can’t happen here’ is no longer a notion,” he said.
The shooting happened at 7:55 a.m. in a school hallway. The resource officer, Blaine Gaskill, a 34-year-old sheriff’s deputy, responded immediately, engaging the shooter and firing a round at him, Cameron said. Gaskill was not injured.
After a brief lockdown, students were evacuated by bus to a vocational center to be reunited with their families.
The Maryland shooting comes just over a month after a gunman rampaged through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., killing 14 students and three staff members with an assault rifle.
The Feb. 14 massacre spurred the formation of a movement of teenagers across the country to push lawmakers for stricter gun control measures. Hundreds of Great Mills students participated in a national school walkout last week to protest gun violence.
On Monday, Maryland’s Senate followed the House in passing a bill banning the manufacture, sale, possession and use of “bump stocks,” which allow semiautomatic rifles to mimic fully automatic weapons.
The Maryland House has also passed bills that would force people convicted of domestic violence or deemed mentally ill or dangerous by a judge to surrender their guns.
At a news briefing Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said legislators should do more to bolster school security.
After the Parkland shooting, Hogan proposed investing $125 million to heighten school security to reinforce doors and windows and install panic buttons, security cameras and metal detectors. An additional $50 million, he suggested, should be funneled into new school safety grants to fund school resource officers, counselors and additional safety technology.
“We need more than prayers,” said Hogan, a Republican. “We’ve got to take action. We’ve got one of the most aggressive school safety plans in America that we introduced several weeks ago as emergency legislation, and the Legislature’s failed to take action on it.… To me, it’s outrageous we haven’t taken action yet on something so important as school safety.”
Student activists from Stoneman Douglas High, who are planning a national demonstration and rally in Washington on Saturday for gun control, posted messages to the Maryland students on Twitter.
“Less than a WEEK ago Great Mills High School students walked out with us to protest gun violence … now they’re experiencing it for themselves,” Jaclyn Corin, 17, junior class president at Stoneman Douglas, posted on Twitter. “The state of our country is disgusting — I’m so sorry, Great Mills.”