UPDATED, 3/20 at 11:55 PDT — A school resource officer reportedly confronted an armed student who had just opened fire Tuesday morning at a Maryland high school and shot him, according to NBC News in nearby Washington, D.C.
The shooter is dead. He has been identified by several news agencies as 17-year-old Austin Wyatt Rollins. The school resource officer was identified as Deputy Blaine Gaskill.
Two students are known to have been wounded by the suspect. Fox News is reporting that anti-gun Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was enroute to the shooting scene because the school – Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County – is in his congressional district.
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The incident comes just five weeks after a mass shooting in Florida that left 17 students and adults dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The suspect in that incident is also in custody and is now charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
But there is a marked difference between the Florida incident and the one in Maryland. The lone school resource officer at Great Mills apparently did not hesitate outside a building. Described as a “trained, armed deputy sheriff,” the Great Mills resource officer quickly confronted the suspect and took him down.
There are few details so far as the investigation has just begun. Maryland has some of the toughest gun laws in the United States and no doubt several of those laws were violated by the suspect.
According to initial reports by the Baltimore Sun, there were no fatalities in the incident. The high school was immediately placed on lockdown, and deputies from the sheriff’s office, along with FBI agents are reportedly on the scene or enroute.
The victims were taken to MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, the newspaper reported.
The school is about 60 miles southeast from the Washington, D.C.
St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron told a local NBC affiliate, “You train to respond to this and you hope that you never ever have to…This is the realization of your worst nightmare…that, in a school, that our children could be attacked. And so as quickly … as that SRO responded and engaged, there’s grievous injuries to two students.”
There has been considerable criticism since the Feb. 14 shooting in Florida because Broward County sheriff’s deputies apparently waited outside the building while shooting was still in progress. One deputy has already resigned, and the sheriff’s office has faced a tidal wave of criticism for its failure to have taken proactive measures against the suspect although deputies had been called to his home more than 30 times over the past few years.