Girl critically hurt in HS shooting may have had relationship with suspected gunman, police say
Google(GREAT MILLS, Md.) — Two teenagers were shot and injured at a high school in Great Mills, Maryland, on Tuesday morning, allegedly by a classmate who may have had a prior relationship with one of them, authorities said.
Suspect Austin Rollins’ two alleged victims — a 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl — were shot in a Great Mills High School hallway just before classes began, authorities said, adding that Rollins, 17, died after exchanging gunfire with a school resource officer.
“There is an indication that a prior relationship existed between the shooter and the female victim,” St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron said at a news conference on Tuesday.
The extent of any relationship between them was unclear and the motive remains under investigation.
The sole school resource officer, Deputy Blaine Gaskill, engaged the suspect and fired a round, authorities said. The shooter fired a round, too, authorities. The suspect was injured and has since died at a hospital, police said.
The injured girl was hospitalized in critical condition and the injured boy was hospitalized in stable condition, authorities said.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said it appears the shooting was handled “exactly the way it should have been handled.”
“Had a very capable school resource officer that also happened to be a S.W.A.T. team member,” he said at a news conference. “This is a tough guy who apparently closed in very quickly and took the right kind of action. And I think while it’s still tragic, he may have saved other people’s lives.”
Authorities began evacuating people from the school later this morning and busing them to a reunification center at nearby Leonardtown High School, St. Mary’s County Public Schools said.
“The building is orderly and the sheriff’s office is conducting an investigation,” the district added.
Sheriff Cameron said no “pre-incident signs” have been found on social media accounts connected to the suspect at this time.
Police have responded to the suspect’s home, Cameron added.
Senior Terrence Rhames, 18, was standing outside his first class when he heard a gunshot and started running, The Baltimore Sun reported.
He said he saw another student fall out of the corner of his eye.
“I just thank God I’m safe,” Rhames told the newspaper. “I just want to know who did it and who got injured.”
Great Mills is located about 60 miles southeast of Washington, D.C.
FBI and ATF agents have responded.
Gov. Hogan said in an earlier statement, “I want to express my deepest gratitude to the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office and all of the first responders who swiftly and bravely took action to secure the school. The First Lady and I are praying for those who were injured, their families and loved ones, and for the entire Great Mills community as they come together to heal in the wake of this horrific situation.”
“But prayers are not enough,” Hogan continued. “Although our pain remains fresh and the facts remain uncertain, today’s horrible events should not be an excuse to pause our conversation about school safety. Instead, it must serve as a call to action.”
Cameron said at the news conference Tuesday, “This is what we prepare for. And this is what we pray we never have to do. And on this day, we realize our worst nightmare. That our greatest asset, our children, were attacked in one of our places of … safety and security, one of our schools.”
Meanwhile, a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing Tuesday morning on how to prevent school violence and other violence in the country.
As the hearing began, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said of Tuesday’s school shooting, “We can only hope there are no fatalities. We simply cannot watch this happen time and time again and take no action.”
This shooting comes four days before Saturday’s March for Our Lives in nearby Washington, D.C. Thousands of students are expected to descend on the nation’s capital to rally for gun control and safer schools in the wake of the deadly Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Less than one week ago, Great Mills High School students were among the thousands participating in the National School Walkout, according to local news outlet TheBayNet.com.
The walkout, which marked a month since the Parkland massacre, was organized as a call on Congress to tighten gun laws.
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