By Associated Press • 

Two injured, student shooter dead at Maryland high school

GREAT MILLS, Maryland - A teenager with a handgun shot two classmates inside his Maryland high school Tuesday before he was fatally wounded during a confrontation with a school resource officer, a sheriff said.

The officer and the student both fired a single shot at that point, and it wasn't immediately clear whether he took his own life or was killed by the officer's bullet, St. Mary's County Sheriff Tim Cameron said. The other students — a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy — were hospitalized, the girl with life-threatening injuries. The officer, who doubles as a SWAT team member, was unharmed.

“When the shooting took place, our school resource officer, who was stationed inside the school, was alerted to the event and the shots being fired. He pursued the shooter and engaged the shooter, during which that engagement he fired a round at the shooter,” Cameron said.

“Simultaneously the shooter fired a round as well. So, in the hours to come, in the days to come, through a detailed investigation, we will be able to determine if our SRO's round struck the shooter.”

The shooter was identified as Austin Rollins, 17. His motive wasn't immediately clear. "There is an indication that a prior relationship existed between the shooter and the female victim, the sheriff said.

Agents with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives joined deputies at Great Mills High School as students endured a lengthy lockdown, cowering inside classrooms and a locker room while officers worked to make sure there were no more threats on campus.

Police eventually kicked in the locker room door, said Ziyanna Williams, a 14-year-old ninth-grader.

“They came in with guns, and they probably thought there might be another shooter, of course,” she said. “About an hour or two later they came -- more police came -- and told us they would search us and search our bags and stuff.” Eventually, the students were escorted outside.

The school has about 1,600 students and is near the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, about 65 miles (104 kilometers) southeast of Washington. On Tuesday, ambulances, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles crowded the parking lot and the street outside, where about 20 school buses lined up in the rain to take students to nearby Leonardtown High School to be picked up by their parent or guardians.

Politicians acknowledged that this shooting adds pressure to take action against gun violence, joining a nationwide groundswell of anger over the Valentine's Day killings of 17 people at a Florida high school by a teenager with an assault weapon.

Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer praised the first responders, saying the officer at the school “answered the call this morning with swiftness, professionalism, and courage.” He said it's now for Congress to take action.

“We sympathize. We empathize. We have moments of silence. But we don't have action,” Hoyer said. “Wringing our hands is not enough.”

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., also spoke to reporters near the high school, and expressing anger and saying that at a minimum, universal background checks and a ban on assault-style weapons are needed. He said he believes momentum is building for reform, fueled by student activism.

“These students are literally just not taking ‘no’ for an answer,” Cardin said. “I can tell you that Americans are listening to our students. I think our political system will respond.”

Maryland's Senate joined the House on Monday night to ban bump stocks, which enable a semi-automatic rifle to mimic a fully automatic weapon. Teachers’ union leaders issued statements Tuesday saying more policies must be changed nationwide to keep schools safe.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, meanwhile, accused the Democrat-led legislature of failing to take action on “one of the most aggressive school safety plans in the country.”

“We've got to take action,” Hogan said. “We're going to try to get something done in Annapolis.”

Many students across the country are calling for effective gun controls, leading up to Saturday's March For Our Lives rally in the nation's capital against gun violence in schools. The violence hasn't abated since the massacre in Parkland, Florida; A high school student in Birmingham, Alabama, was killed this month when a classmate fired a gun inside a classroom. Threats against schools have proliferated as well, and Great Mills High has not been immune.

Just last month, the school's principal, Jake Heibel, told parents in a letter posted on the local news site The Bay Net that two students were interviewed after they were overheard mentioning a school shooting, and they were found to pose no threat. Heibel said the school increased its security nevertheless after social media posts about a possible school shooting “circulated quite extensively.”

Also last month, St. Mary's County Sheriff's office said it arrested two teenage boys for “Threats of Mass Violence” and a 39-year-old man on related charges after the teens made threats about a potential school shooting at Leonardtown High School, a high school about 10 miles from Great Mills. Police said they obtained a search warrant that led to them finding semi-automatic rifles, handguns and other weapons, along with ammunition.

“This is what we prepare for and this is what we pray we will never have to do,” the sheriff said Tuesday. “The notion that it can't happen here is no longer a notion.”

 

Comments

Mudstump

Rinse and repeat....rinse and repeat.... It is no longer a matter of if, but when. The adults in this world should be ashamed...that we do nothing as our children are shot and mutilated in our own communities.

Joel2828

I wonder where we will be in ten years in regards to this seemingly unsolvable problem? Banning guns won't solve it. It's far deeper and more complex than that. We have already banned murder and that hasn't stopped it.
I predict public schools will some day be an ancient relic and parents will have to once again take responsibility for educating their children. Either by themselves at home or in small private groups. Sad.

Rotwang

Good. A cop was on site and was able to stop the criminal before anyone died.

Trafik

This is great, Rotwang! It's so cool that somebody shot more kids at a school and an able first-responder was there to shoot him dead! Boy, we don't have a problem at all! Whew! For a minute there, I was worried. Nope, no problem here. As long as somebody with a gun is there to shoot the criminal with the gun, we don't have a problem at all.

To me, it's utterly inconceivable that a sane person could label this situation "good" but that's the "Guns for Everyone!" gun nut mentality.

Trafik

To Joel2828’s point: he’s wrong. A true ban (meaning actual eradication) would, indeed, solve the problem of commonplace mass shootings. But I’m fairly certain his statement reflected an understanding that a true ban won’t be occurring any time soon—the sheer number of firearms littering this country would prevent that, not to mention the violent uprising that’d ensue if it was tried.

Joel2828 is correct that this is a complex problem with deep roots. The trouble is, I’m pretty sure this society isn’t going to do an about-face and begin instilling the values, self-discipline and accountability required of a responsible arms-bearing civilization—traits we may have once possessed in greater abundance than today. In my opinion, we can’t have both largely unrestricted firearms (that’s unrestricted, compared to most of the free world) and a population with little incentive or ability to bear them without heavy oversight.

To maintain the traditional level of firearms freedoms we currently have will require a significant reconfiguration of how we go about our daily lives. It will likely include armed security in most public places, the fortification of institutions like schools and restrictions on public movements and access. To me, this cost is too great.

My current bickering with Rotwang notwithstanding (and whose opinion I respect, in spite of my disagreement), this is indicative of the larger disconnect between gun traditionalists and modern reality. A solution will require constructive input—and significant concessions—all the way around.

Lulu

Did you read the Austin bomber was home schooled?

Rotwang

Trafik, the problem doesn't lie with firearms - the little black rifles nor any others. With millions "littering" this country (I can't believe you're a republican), if that was the issue, we'd be mostly dead today. Hornberger, as usual, nails it in this article, addressing "a violently dysfunctional society": https://www.fff.org/2018/03/21/violently-dysfunctional-society/

tagup

Which is the more attainable solution...restricting and increasing requirements for gun ownership or fixing a "violently dysfunctional society".....I think the answer is obvious...

REB

Tagup, I think the Chicago experiment answers your question. criminals do not obey the laws. Over 3 million bad, black guns ---and then there is the Fast and Furious option (in reverse)---smuggled guns from Mexico. How long has the war on drugs lasted? How effective was that one? Actually, your method only restricts rights for non-criminals. "Violently dysfunctional society" includes bombs and we have heard your position on all of this. It's a liberal pipe dream.

Utopia does not exist.

tagup

and doing nothing, changes nothing....are we really going to wait for a perfect solution before doing anything?....Is that your point?

Joel2828

Tagup, I know liberals really, really hate this phrase but here goes...the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.
The most immediate, actionable way to protect our kids is good guys with guns in schools. (see this very article about the Maryland shooting as evidence of that).
Is it the perfect solution? No. Is it comfortable and something we all wanted to see become necessary? No. Is it perfectly effective and not without risks of its own? No. But it is something. And it is something that can be done right away.

Joel2828

Lulu, He was home schooled? That explains everything. Sounds like we should look into banning home school.

tagup

Joel- I think the one glaring weakness with the "good guy with a gun..." strategy is that the vast majority of good guys are not trained, and likely don't practice regularly. The requirements to obtain a Concealed Carry permit is not anywhere close to acceptable in my opinion. I'm not opposed to having firearm qualified people at schools, but I think we also need to develop some stricter guidelines for the general public as well. Somewhere we need to find some common ground between total gun confiscation and wide open, arm everyone, conversations. I own guns....but I do have a hard time justifying 20-30 round magazines or bump stocks. They clearly are not necessary for hunting (the self defense argument IMO doesn't hold water) and I don't think it should be a deal breaker for target shooters to shoot with less capacity....why can't gun owners be required to receive training and maybe even carry insurance?....(que the constitutional debate) Without some realistic dialog and compromise on both sides, we should only expect more of the same.

Joel2828

Great comment, Tag. I agree with everything you said (except maybe the insurance thing). I especially like what you said about the need for compromise on both sides.

Trafik

Sometimes the lunacy to which a conversation devolves renders further rational comment meaningless. Still, I can’t always help myself.

I suspect we all agree on two points: First, we live in an increasingly dysfunctional society and, second, there’s no such thing as Shangri-La.

That said, let me get this straight. Arming more people with more guns is the best hope for preventing the weekly problem of school shootings? If we get enough people armed, the odds’ll favor a good guy managing to disable the threat during such an event? Amateur concealed-carriers will have the skill and split-second judgment to knock down nutcases with semiautomatic rifles? The same amateurs are unlikely to strike bystanders with inaccurate fire? Or is collateral casualty acceptable? And the amateurs will exercise no-fail discipline, never misplacing or forgetting their sidearms? Sounds an awful lot like Utopia, which we all agree doesn’t exist.

I suspect we also agree that society, itself, isn’t going to get better any time soon — on the contrary, I think it’ll get worse. I have never advocated for that other false-perfect-world of firearms eradication — it’s not possible for many reasons. But thinking we can eliminate school shootings by arming amateurs is nothing more than profound naïveté.

T.W.S.

This is NOT a gun issue, it is a HUMAN issue. Ever since the liberals made sure psychiatric facilities were done with...we have had far too many mentally ill on the streets. To COMPOUND the ERROR, liberal DemocRATS have focused too much on the individual and not enough on the greater good (the collective/majority).

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