Sheriff: Officer’s quick action stopped Maryland school shooter in seconds

LEXINGTON PARK, Md. -- A 17-year-old male student shot two other students at Great Mills High School in Maryland on Tuesday morning before a school resource officer engaged him and stopped the threat, authorities said.

The incident began in a school hallway at 7:55 a.m., just before classes started.

Authorities say Austin Wyatt Rollins, armed with a handgun, shot a female and a male student. The shooter had a previous relationship with the female student, St. Mary's County Sheriff Tim Cameron said.

Deputy Blaine Gaskill (left), seen here in a photo taken in 2012 and posted on the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office Facebook page.

School resource officer Blaine Gaskill responded to the scene in less than a minute, the sheriff said.

Gaskill fired a round at the shooter, and the shooter fired a round simultaneously, Cameron said.

Rollins was later pronounced dead. Gaskill was unharmed.

The 16-year-old female student is in critical condition with life-threatening injuries, and the 14-year-old male student who was shot is in stable condition.

Cameron said he was not sure whether Gaskill's bullet hit the suspect, but he praised the officer's quick response to the situation.

"He responded exactly as we train our personnel to respond," he said.

"This is what we train for, this is what we prepare for, and this is what we pray that we never have to do. On this day, we realized our worst nightmare.

"The notion of 'it can't happen here' is no longer a notion."

The school was on lockdown for a brief time, and students were evacuated to a reunification center at a nearby high school, the school system said.

Toni Foreman, who lives near the suspect and his family in nearby Lexington Park, said he was a good kid from a nice family who used to play catch and ride bikes with her son.

"Whenever snow was out, he would help shovel," she said. "I'm just totally floored that it was him."

Jonathan Freese, a student at Great Mills, called from his cellphone during the lockdown in his math class. Police were going through classrooms to clear the school, Freese said.

"I'm still a little shaken up," he said.

Freese said the school had held drills a couple of times for this kind of situation.

"I didn't really expect for this to happen. I do always feel safe, though, because they always have police at the school," he said.

Great Mills High School is in Great Mills, about 70 miles southeast of Washington. It has more than 1,500 students, about 56 percent of them minority students, and its four-year graduation rate is 91 percent.