By the Associated Press
Austin Rollins, 17, was killed Tuesday morning at Great Mills High School when a school resource officer fired off a shot at the attacker. It was not yet clear whether Rollins took his own life with his father’s semi-automatic Glock handgun or was killed by the officer’s bullet.
Investigators with the St. Mary’s County sheriff’s office said Rollins shot a 16-year-old girl in a hallway within minutes of entering the high school. Rollins and the girl had recently ended a relationship.
“All indications suggest the shooting was not a random act of violence,” police said in a statement.
A 14-year-old boy who was shot in the thigh was released Wednesday from a hospital, while the girl, Jaelynn Willey, was still fighting for her life at a the University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center.
The area where the shooting took place is in St. Mary’s County, with a population of about 110,000. The coastal swath of southern Maryland is located about 65 miles (105 kilometers) from Washington, D.C., and many families have military ties.
Attempts to reach the shooter’s family were unsuccessful.
A day after the eruption of gun violence in one of the sleepy community’s schools, the few residents who ventured out amid a snowstorm blanketing the East Coast praised the school resource officer who responded inside of 60 seconds and fired off a shot at the attacker.
“He did a very, very good job,” said Sharon Eglinton, manager of a cafe in nearby Leonardtown.
While investigators are still determining whether Rollins took his own life or was killed by the officer’s bullet, St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron credited Deputy First Class Blaine Gaskill with preventing any more loss of life.
Cameron said Gaskill, a six-year veteran with SWAT team training, responded within a minute and fired his weapon simultaneously with a final shot fired by Rollins. The officer was unharmed.
Gaskill was praised a couple of years ago for his handling of a confrontation with an armed suspect.
A Maryland man was charged in 2016 after he was accused of confronting Gaskill with a gun at an apartment in an incident captured on body camera video. Gaskill can be heard in the video giving several commands to drop the gun before the man eventually complies.
The Enterprise, a local newspaper, reports Cameron said at the time that Gaskill had “used exemplary judgment.”
On Wednesday, authorities said the handgun used in the shooting was legally owned by Rollins’ father.
People who knew Rollins were trying to make some kind of sense of Tuesday’s hometown horror.
“Never in a million years could I have imagined he would do something like this. I was in the car when I heard it was him. I pulled over and almost puked,” said Adlai Traver, 18, who attended Great Mills in his freshman and sophomore years and knew all three kids involved in the shooting.