GREAT MILLS, Md. — A teenager with family ties to Nebraska shot and critically wounded a girl inside a Maryland school on Tuesday before he was killed during a confrontation with a school resource officer, a sheriff said. A 14-year-old boy was also wounded and was in good condition.
The shooting at Great Mills High School, a month after 17 people were killed at a Florida high school, intensified calls for Congress to act on gun violence at schools. This weekend, students across the country plan an anti-gun violence march on the nation’s capital.
In Maryland, it wasn’t immediately clear whether the shooter took his own life or was killed by the officer’s bullet, St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron said, though the officer was credited with preventing any more loss of life.
Authorities didn’t release a motive, but said they believe the girl and the shooter — 17-year-old Austin Rollins — previously had a relationship. It wasn’t clear how the 14-year-old boy was wounded.
The officer, who doubles as a SWAT team member, was unharmed.
Rollins’ father, Rocky Rollins, is from Henderson, Nebraska, according to his Facebook page. Family members still live in the York area.
Henderson Police Chief Milan Mierau said Tuesday that he grew up with Rocky Rollins’ father and knows the whole Rollins family “very well.”
Mierau, who has been with Henderson’s police department 40 years, said the news of the shooting is “very shocking” but said the Rollins family has wide community support.
“They are a really good family here,” Mierau said. “They are very well-liked. ”
Mierau said he hadn’t been able to talk with immediate members of the Rollins family but said he will offer any help that he can.
Police in Maryland did not identify the victims, but the family of 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey, a sophomore at Great Mills, confirmed that she had been shot.
Politicians responded swiftly to the shooting about 65 miles southeast of Washington.
“We sympathize. We empathize. We have moments of silence. But we don’t have action,” said the No. 2 U.S. House Democrat, Steny Hoyer, who represents the area in Congress. “Wringing our hands is not enough.”
In this case, it appeared the shooter illegally possessed the gun. In Maryland, a person must be 21 to possess a handgun, unless carrying one is required for employment. It’s unclear how Rollins obtained the weapon.
The sheriff praised the school resource officer, Deputy First Class Blaine Gaskill, a six-year veteran in his first year at the high school, for containing the situation in less than a minute.
“He had to cover significant ground,” Cameron said. “The premise is simple: You go to the sound of gunfire.”
Students endured a lengthy lockdown, cowering inside classrooms and a locker room while officers worked to make sure there were no more threats .
Police eventually kicked in the locker room door, said 14-year-old Ziyanna Williams, a 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 and taken to another school to be reunited with their parents.