Suspect killed by security officer in latest US school shooting

Gunman shot two other students before exchange of fire with security officer at Maryland school

A student from Great Mills High School in Maryland  is comforted by a guardian a shooting there at on Tuesday. Photograph:  Win McNamee/Getty Images

A student from Great Mills High School in Maryland is comforted by a guardian a shooting there at on Tuesday. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images

 

A 17-year-old student shot and critically wounded two fellow students at a Maryland high school on Tuesday morning before dying after exchanging gunfire with a campus security officer, the county sheriff said.

The shooting, which came amid a renewed national debate in the US over gun violence following a school massacre in Florida last month, occurred just before 8 am (noon Irish time) at Great Mills High School in St Mary’s County, county Sheriff Timothy Cameron said.

A 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy were wounded and taken to hospitals. The girl was in intensive care with life-threatening critical injuries, the sheriff said, while the boy was in good condition.

The gunman was identified as Austin Wyatt Rollins, and Mr Cameron said there was “an indication” of a prior relationship between him and the female student, though he said that was still under investigation.

The latest in a long string of deadly shootings at US schools and colleges took place a little more than a month after 17 students and educators were shot dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

That massacre sparked a new student movement against gun violence, including a national school walkout last week that Great Mills students participated in. It occurred just days before a planned Saturday march in Washington calling for new restrictions on guns.

Rollins pulled out a Glock semiautomatic handgun about 7.55am in a hallway and shot the students, the sheriff said.

The attack, which lasted less than a minute, ended after the school resource officer, deputy 1st class sheriff Blaine Gaskill, ran inside the building and engaged with Rollins, with both firing a single round almost simultaneously.

The officer was not harmed, Mr Cameron said. Rollins was confirmed deceased at 10.41am after being taken to a hospital.

Arming teachers

Parkland students and Great Mills students exchanged supportive messages on Twitter following Tuesday’s shooting.

“We are here for you, students of Great Mills, together we can stop this from ever happening again,” Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Stoneman Douglas High School who survived last month’s rampage, wrote on Twitter.

Mr Cameron said investigators would determine whether the gunman died of a wound from the school resource officer’s gun or in some other way.

An armed school resource officer had also been on the campus of Stoneman Douglas at the time of the shooting there, and came under criticism for failing to stop the gunman, who was armed with an AR-15 assault-style rifle. The officer, who resigned, said he had not been sure where the gunfire was coming from.

US president Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association have proposed arming teachers to combat the threat of school shootings, while gun safety advocates have demanded a ban on semiautomatic rifles, among other laws.

The Maryland school is in Great Mills, a community about 110km south of Washington.

“You never think it’ll be your school and then it is,” Mollie Davis, who identified herself as a student at the school, wrote on Twitter. “Great Mills is a wonderful school and somewhere I am proud to go. Why us?” – Reuters