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story.lead_photo.caption Police escort students Tuesday after a shooting at Great Mills High School in Great Mills, Md.

A student opened fire at Great Mills High School in southern Maryland on Tuesday morning, critically injuring two other students before he was confronted by a school resource officer, according to the St. Mary's County sheriff's office.

The officer and gunman exchanged fire in a hallway, authorities said. They said the gunman was fatally wounded, but it was not clear whether he was shot by the officer or hit by his own round.

Sheriff Timothy Cameron said at a news conference that the 17-year-old shooter and two students, ages 16 and 14, were rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The school resource officer, who doubles as a SWAT team member, was not injured, the sheriff said.

The shooter, identified as Austin Rollins, was pronounced dead at 10:41 a.m., Cameron said.

"On this day, we realized our worst nightmare," Cameron said at the news conference. "Our children were attacked in a bastion of safety. ... The notion that it can't happen here is no longer a notion."

MedStar St. Mary's Hospital said in a statement that the 14-year-old boy was in "good condition." The 16-year-old girl was stabilized and transferred to UM Prince George's Hospital Center, Medstar said.

Authorities didn't release a motive but said they believe that the girl and Rollins previously had a relationship.

While police did not identify the victims, the family of 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey, a sophomore at Great Mills, confirmed that she had been shot.

Jaelynn is one of nine siblings, according to a statement from the family, and a member of the swim team.

"Jaelynn is an amazing young lady, whose peaceful presence and love of her fellow students and family is known throughout her Maryland-based school," the family statement said.

The shooting rocked a nation still reeling from the Feb. 14 massacre of 17 people at a Florida high school by a gunman with an assault-style weapon. Students across the country have planned an anti-gun violence march for this weekend at the nation's capital.

Politicians responded swiftly to the Maryland shooting, acknowledging that it increased the pressure for action.

"We sympathize. We empathize. We have moments of silence. But we don't have action," said the No. 2 U.S. House Democrat, Steny Hoyer, who represents the area. "Wringing our hands is not enough."

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said that at a minimum, universal background checks and a ban on assault-style weapons are needed. He said he believes momentum is building for an overhaul of gun policies, fueled by student activism.

In this case, it appeared the shooter illegally possessed the gun. In Maryland, a person must be 21 to possess a handgun, unless carrying one is required for employment. It's not clear how Rollins obtained the weapon.

Attempts to reach his family were unsuccessful.

Maryland's Senate joined the House on Monday night in voting to ban bump stocks, which enable a semi-automatic rifle to mimic a fully automatic weapon. Teachers union leaders issued statements Tuesday saying that more policies must be changed nationwide to keep schools safe.

One of the shooter's friends, 14-year-old Jordan Hutchinson, and his mother dropped off a condolence card at the Rollins home.

Jordan recalled meeting Rollins five years ago during a snowstorm and playing together, building snow forts.

"Austin was a nice kid. We did sleepovers all the time," he said.

The sheriff praised the school resource officer, Deputy 1st Class Blaine Gaskill, a six-year veteran in his first year at the high school, for containing the situation in less than a minute.

"He had to cover significant ground," Cameron said. "The premise is simple: You go to the sound of gunfire."

Students endured a lengthy lockdown, cowering inside classrooms and a locker room while officers worked to make sure there were no more threats on campus.

Eventually, the students were escorted outside and taken to another school to be reunited with their parents.

The school has about 1,600 students and is near the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, about 65 miles southeast of Washington.

Just last month, the St. Mary's County sheriff's office said it arrested two teenage boys over "threats of mass violence" and a 39-year-old man on related charges after the teens made threats about a potential school shooting at Leonardtown High School. Police said they obtained a search warrant that led to them finding semi-automatic rifles, handguns and other weapons, along with ammunition.

Information for this article was contributed by Dana Hedgpeth, Justin Jouvenal, Lynh Bui, Donna St. George, Debbi Truong, Rachel Weiner, Joe Heim and Ovetta Wiggins of The Washington Post and by Matthew Barakat, Jesse J. Holland, Alex Brandon, Courtney Columbus, David McFadden, Sarah Rankin, Alan Suderman and Brian Witte of The Associated Press.

A Section on 03/21/2018

Print Headline: Maryland school shooter wounds 2 peers

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  • RBear
    March 21, 2018 at 5:56 a.m.

    I know the gun nuts are salivating over this shooting, trying to hold it up as their "good guy with a gun" defense. The problem with that is that it was a resource officer, not a citizen, who took down the shooter. It was also not a mass shooting, nor did it involve the weapon type most are calling for a ban on. The shooting was a domestic violence incident and would probably not be covered as a cause to deny a permit due to the nature of the relationship in most states.
    ...
    The shooter also obtained the weapon illegally. Another student was hit in the exchange of gunfire and it is not known if it was from the shooter or resource officer, demonstrating even more how dangerous arming teachers in schools can be. This was a trained SWAT officer and yet another person was hit in the exchange.
    ...
    The NRA is holding this up as their poster incident, but it just proves how bad their premise is in protecting schools. The bottom line of their premise is that in order for them to retain their guns we need more guns to protect ourselves. I've asked some of the gun nuts in here about that and that's exactly what they said. That's what you call insanity.

  • Packman
    March 21, 2018 at 11:33 a.m.

    Hey RBear - Nah, you're wrong. The salivating that took place was by shameless libs like yourself that stood on the graves of dead kids in Florida to promote a political narrative for votes.
    .
    And why is it a "problem" for a good guy with a gun to defeat a bad guy with a gun in any context?
    .
    It wasn't a mass shooting because a good guy with a gun kept it from happening. DUH!
    .
    Wait. Are you saying the bad guy obtained the gun illegally? WTF! I thought you wanted to pass more laws because bad guys always obey the law. Gosh, RBear, you sure change your mind a lot.
    .
    Wait again. You admit a good guy with a gun stopped a bad guy with a gun. The NRA supports training and arming good guys with guns in schools, yet you say that premise is "bad" after just acknowledging it was good. WHAT......THE......F. THAT's insanity, RBear. But you be you.

  • RBear
    March 21, 2018 at 11:43 a.m.

    Pack, I've long come to the conclusion you definitely were not on the scholar-athlete role when you were in college. You can't even put two thoughts together to come up with rational conclusions. Sorry, but if anyone is trying to use the victims of Parkland it's the NRA and you in trying to promote arming teachers. We haven't changed our message since Sandy Hook and that's to ban assault weapons and to provide a universal background check. Haven't changed my mind one bit. Now you, on the other hand, waffle with every meme that hits the Internet.

  • Packman
    March 21, 2018 at 2:50 p.m.

    Hey RBear - Not to point out the obvious, but neither thing you recommend (banning the sale of sporting rifles and universal background checks) would have prevented this act of evil. What DID prevent more carnage was a good guy with a gun, and that's THE point.
    .
    Your "solutions" are nothing of the sort. Real solutions will be found in a two step approach: 1) Identify and address the root causes and 2) Protect individual rights that allow for self-defense and defense of others at the point of attack. The evidence to support what I say can be found in a 2013 report from the CDC conducted by the Institute of Medicine and the Natural Research Council.

  • carpenterretired
    March 21, 2018 at 10:31 p.m.

    Bad guy still got first shot (true at students) so good guy got his turn (helpful only hand guns ,no one had assault rifle with large mags) ,good guy shot the guy he saw with gun, now if the building had been full of teachers running around ,waving guns who would the cop have shot? Good guy point man on infantry patrol often gets shot at by bad guy ambusher ( first shot) and then if bad guy misses good guy point man gets his turn, reality of shoot outs.

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