A school shooting at Great Mills High School in Great Mills, Maryland was cut short on Tuesday after armed school resource officer Deputy Blaine Gaskill confronted the gunman less than a minute after the start of the attack.
A 16-year-old female student who reportedly had a prior relationship with the gunman was critically wounded and is receiving treatment in an ICU, and a 14-year-old male student was also injured in the attack and is currently in stable condition, according to Fox News.
The gunman, 17-year-old student Austin Wyatt Rollins, was fatally shot during the confrontation and is currently the only fatality associated with the incident. He reportedly used a handgun in his attack.
“Our school resource officer was alerted to the event. He pursued the shooter, engaged the shooter, fired a round at the shooter. The shooter fired a round as well. In the hours and days to come, we’ll be able to determine if our school resource officer’s round struck the shooter,” said St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron. Police are also investigating the possibility that Rollins might have committed suicide during the confrontation.
“[Deputy Gaskill] had to cover significant ground [to reach the shooter]. The premise is simple: You go to the sound of gunfire,” Sheriff Cameron added according to The Chicago Tribune.
Deputy Gaskill’s actions draw a stark contrast with those of Deputy Scot Peterson, the school resource officer who failed to confront a school shooter during the deadly February 14 Parkland, Fla. mass shooting which left 17 dead and 16 injured.
Md. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said according to CNN, “[Deputy Gaskill] is a tough guy who apparently closed in very quickly and took the right kind of action. And while I think it’s still tragic, he may have saved other people’s lives.”
According to Southern Maryland News Online, Deputy Gaskill also previously made news in a July 26, 2016 incident in which, during a domestic disturbance call, he was confronted by an armed, inebriated individual who pointed a gun at him. Gaskill was able to take the suspect into custody without discharging his service weapon. The incident was captured on video on Gaskill’s body cam.
His restraint during that domestic disturbance call also paints a stark contrast to other recent high-profile and controversial use-of-force incidents in which police officers, claiming that they were afraid for their lives, had shot unarmed individuals, sparking a national conversation over when it is appropriate for police officers to shoot suspects.