A student opened fire at Great Mills High School in Southern Maryland Tuesday morning, critically injuring a female student before he was confronted by a school resource officer, according to the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office.
The officer and gunman both fired nearly simultaneously in a school hallway, authorities said. They said the gunman, identified as 17-year-old Austin Wyatt Rollins, was mortally wounded, but it was not clear whether he was shot by the officer or hit by his own round at the school 70 miles south of Washington, D.C. A third student was shot in the incident but it not immediately clear by whom.
Sheriff Timothy K. Cameron said at an afternoon press conference the shooter and two students, ages 16 and 14, were rushed to the hospital. The school resource officer, St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Deputy Blaine Gaskill, was not injured, the sheriff said.
Rollins was pronounced dead at 10:41 a.m. Cameron said.
A prior relationship existed between Rollins and the female student shot and authorities are exploring whether it played a role in the shooting.
Isaiah Quarles, a 10th-grader, was walking to his first period class Tuesday morning. He didn’t hear a gunshot but saw a girl falling to the ground. He thought she had fainted but then there were screams and shouts and someone yelled about a gun.
“Everyone started running and I started running, too,” Quarles said. “I was scared.”
The 16-year-old ran to his class. His teacher remained calm, he said, and soon there was an announcement on the public address system. “Our principal said there was a lockdown but no one was going to be harmed,” Quarles said.
Tyriq Wheeler, 17, was headed to his English class when he heard a loud bang. He hustled to class after he heard someone was shot.
A lockdown was announced once he made it to class. The class lowered the blinds and locked the door. Students pulled out their phones, contacting their parents and checking the news.
Wheeler remembered thinking, “Is this really happening?”
Last week, Wheeler walked out with other Great Mills students to protest gun violence because “kids shouldn’t be taken from the world so early.”
On Tuesday, as he was picked up from a nearby high school, he said, “I’m grateful I’m still alive. I’m grateful that I can see my mother and sister and, to be honest, I just want to get home.”
Ronda Neville who lives in Sebastian, Fla., has a niece who is in the 11th grade at Great Mills, and said in a phone interview that she was waiting to hear from her niece who is in the 11th grade at Great Mills. She hasn’t heard from her or the girl’s father, who is her brother-in-law.
“I’m sick over this,” she said. Her two sons graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where a former student of the school last month shot and killed 14 classmates and three staff members.
Neville said one of her sons texted her just after 9 a.m. after he heard about the Maryland school shooting. He had gone to Great Mills at one point, she said.
He wrote, “Oh my god. There’s a shooting [at Great Mills],” Neville said she sent a text message to her brother-in-law, the teen’s father.
Just before 10 a.m., Neville said she got a text from the girl’s father saying her niece had stayed home from school. He didn’t say why, but said she was safe.
Neville, who said she attended funerals for friends, a coach and teachers who were killed in Parkland, was “still sick to my stomach.”