Blaine Gaskill was named as the school resource at Maryland’s Great Mills High School, who is credited with helping stop a school shooter who wounded two classmates.
“When the shooting took place, our school resource officer who was stationed inside the school was alerted to the event and the shots being fired,” the sheriff said. “Je pursued the shooter and engaged the shooter. He fired a round at the shooter; simultaneously the shooter fired a round as well.” The shooter was declared dead at a hospital; it’s not clear whether the deputy’s round hit the shooter.
The St. Mary County Sheriff Timothy K. Cameron wrote on Twitter, “There has been an incident at Great Mills High School. Parents please DO NOT respond to the school. Report to Leonardtown High School.”
Austin Wyatt Rollins, 17, produced a handgun while in hallways F, and shot a high school student, a female, who is 16.
The shooting came in the midst of a national debate on arming teachers and gun control after the Florida school shooting in which Nikolas Cruz is accused of shooting multiple students and staff to death at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The Maryland school shooting occurred less than two hours from Washington D.C. CNN reported that three people were injured in the Maryland shooting, and it was not clear yet whether the shooter was among them. The gunman’s identity and that of the victims was not released.
The shooter, who was also a student at the school, is dead and two fellow students are injured. The shooting broke out just before classes started around 8 a.m.
Gaskill is listed as the school resource officer on the school’s website.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Armed School Resources Officer Exchanged Shots With the Gunman, Authorities Say
According to USA Today, St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron said that “Cameron said a male student fired at a female student in a hallway, also hitting a male student. An armed school resources officer arrived at the scene, exchanging shots with the gunman.”
The female student was in critical condition, according to Fox News. Both students were taken to the hospital.
The Sheriff’s Departtment wrote on Facebook, “There has been a school shooting at Great Mills High School. Sheriff’s Office is on scene and the scene is contained. St. Mary’s County Public Schools and the Sheriff’s Office are advising parents to respond to the Leonardtown High School auditorium and reunification will take place at the James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center. Please do not respond to Great Mills High School. Press staging area will be at Chancellors Run Regional Center.”
He doesn’t appear to have been in the news much, although he also made a police blotter item that said he responded to a “violation of a protective order.” The allegation was said to have occurred at St. Mary’s College in 2013.
A school resource officer is assigned to each high school, the sheriff said. “It was a mass response. This is what we train for. This is what we prepare for, and this is what we pray we never have to do. On this day we realized our worst nightmare. Our children were attacked,” the sheriff said.
2. A Man Previously Was Accused of Pointing a Gun at Gaskill
A man from Great Mills, Pekka Robert Heinonen, was previously accused of “committing a first-degree assault on sheriff’s deputy Blaine Gaskill,” according to a report in the Maryland Enterprise.
According to the newspaper, the “Great Mills man dropped a gun after a nighttime confrontation this week with a lawman at the suspect’s home.”
Gaskill’s family has long ties to Maryland, according to a family obituary.
In another incident that made the local newspaper’s police blotter, in 2013, “Deputy Blaine Gaskill responded to a residence on Sea Side View in Ridge, for an assault.” A woman was accused of slapping another person.
3. The School Confirmed That Students Were Being Evacuated
Great Mills High School posted a statement on its website confirming the shooting. “Students are being evacuated from GMHS and being bused to the reunification center at the Leonardtown HS campus. The building is orderly and the Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation. We will continue to update as more information becomes available,” the website for the school said.
Great Mills High School is a public school in Great Mills, Maryland. The ATF responded to the scene. “BREAKING: Special Agents from @ATFBaltimore Hyattsville I and II Field Offices are en route to a shooting reported at Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County, Md.,” the ATF wrote on Twitter.
The Great Mills shooter had a handgun, Fox News reported. Governor Larry Hogan tweeted, “We are closely monitoring the situation at Great Mills High School. @MDSP is in touch with local law enforcement and ready to provide support. Our prayers are with students, school personnel, and first responders.”
4. A Florida High School Student Reached Out to the Maryland Students
Emma Gonzales, one of the Florida high school shooting survivors who has become prominent in the wake of the Florida attack, reached out on Twitter to the Maryland students.
“We are Here for you, students of Great Mills 💗 together we can stop this from ever happening again,” she wrote. In Florida, the school resource officer was accused of not entering the building to confront the shooter as he slew multiple people in the hallways and classrooms.
5. Frightened Students Posted on Social Media as the Shooting Unfolded
As has been seen in other modern mass shooting situations, students at the school posted terrified accounts on social media. Terrence Rhames, a senior at Great Mills, told NBC News that “he and his friends were talking before class when they heard the pop of a loud gunshot.”
“I heard one shot and when we ran, we saw a teacher and he was looking at us with a confused look,” Rhames said to NBC. “We were trying to figure out if this is real.”