Officer stops Maryland school shooter

Deputy First Class Blaine Gaskill, school resource officer at Great Mills High School in Great Mills, Maryland. (Photo: St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department)

Local authorities released a photo of the school resource officer credited with stopping a school shooting in southeastern Maryland on Tuesday.

St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department released the image of Deputy First Class Blaine Gaskill, 34, hours after he intervened in an incident at Great Mills High School Tuesday morning that left two students injured and the accused gunman, 17-year-old Austin Wyatt Rollins, dead.

“Our school resource officer was alerted to the event. He pursued the shooter, engaged the shooter, fired a round at the shooter,” St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron said. “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.”

Authorities said a 16-year-old female student is fighting for her life in intensive care at Prince George’s Hospital Center. A 14-year-old male student remains in stable condition at Medstar St. Mary’s Hospital. Cameron said evidence suggests a prior relationship existed between the female victim and the shooter, but an official motive is still under investigation.

He told reporters Gaskill’s quick actions undoubtedly saved lives and prevented another massacre from unfolding.

“It sure sounds like this is exactly the way it should have been handled by a very good SRO who is also a SWAT team officer…,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan during a news conference Tuesday. “While it’s tragic, he may have saved some other people’s lives.”

Gaskill’s response comes in stark contrast to the inaction of Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson in Parkland, Florida last month. Peterson retired voluntarily after video footage revealed him idling outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while a 19-year-old former student armed with an AR-15 hunted students and teachers inside.

The Parkland shooting generated a new round of debate over gun control, with students-turned-activists leading the charge for tougher restrictions on background checks and rifle sales. President Donald Trump and other gun groups, however, have suggested arming teachers, hardening schools and increasing school resource officers as viable defenses against future school shootings.

“When it comes to the safety of our politicians, celebrities and sports stars, the answer is clear — armed security,” said Wayne LaPierre, president of the National Rifle Association. “It’s the only security solution that is proven to work, which is why has called repeatedly for trained armed security in every American school.”

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