Police say Austin Wyatt Rollins brought a Glock semi-automatic handgun to his school in Maryland, and shot a female student in the hallway before classes began on Tuesday, March 20. According to St. Mary County Sheriff Tim Cameron, Rollins, 17, was transported to Charles Regional Medical Center where he later died.
The shooting was reported at Great Mills High School just before 8 a.m. Eastern.
“There has been a Shooting at Great Mills High School. The school is on lock down the event is contained, the Sheriff’s office is on the scene additional information to follow,” a message on the school’s website read.
According to Baltimore Sun, a student walked through the school, approached Jaelynn Willey, 16, in the hallway and shot her in the head. That same bullet hit 14-year-old Desmond Barnes in the thigh, according to the Daily Mail.
The gunman, identified by police as Rollins, was injured when he was approached by a resource officer at the school. Rollins shot himself in the head and the resource officer also shot him in the head. The sheriff has since confirmed that Rollins died following a self-inflicted gunshot wound; his own shot proved to be fatal.
A few days later, Barnes was released from the hospital. On March 22, the sheriff’s office confirmed that Willey had died.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Deceased Suspect Was an Honor Roll Student at Great Mills High School
Austin Wyatt Rollins was an honor student at Great Mills High School. His Facebook page shows that he lived in Lexington Park, Maryland, and was a Nascar fan.
Rollins was born in Tennessee and moved to Maryland with his family in 2004. His dad, Rocky Rollins, is from Nebraska served in the Air Force. According to police, the handgun that Austin Rollins used in the shooting legally belonged to his dad.
Rocky Rollins had previously posted about his support of the second amendment on Facebook.
In 2010, he shared the YouTube video, “I Like Guns,” by Steve Lee. In 2011, he posted about owning guns.
“We ask that all gun owners put this on their wall. The Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right of the individual. If you believe in the 2nd Amendment, and you are not afraid to show it, re-post this!!! … I hope to see this re-posted a lot by my friends. Remember, if we outlaw guns, then only outlaws will have guns,” the post reads.
After learning of the shooting, Austin Rollins’ aunt posted a message on Facebook, asking if anyone had heard if Rollins was “ok or not.” At that time, she did not appear to know that her nephew was the suspect. Several people left angry comments on her post, and she has since deleted her account.
2. He Had Recently Broken up with the Female Victim & Was Stopped by the School’s Resource Officer
Authorities have confirmed that Rollins entered the school and shot Jaelynn Willey after the two had ended their relationship. It is unclear why they broke up.
“All indications suggest the shooting was not a random act of violence,” police said in a statement.
“Great Mills High School began its school day at 7:45 a.m. like many other days, except for on this day a male student produced a handgun and fired a round, wounding a female student and another male student in a hallway of Great Mills High School just before classes begun,” Sheriff Tim Cameron said at a press conference.
Shortly after the gunman opened fire, the school’s resource officer, Blaine Gaskill (pictured below, left), exchanged fire with him. Cameron confirmed Rollins had been wounded in that exchange, but that the officer was not injured. A couple of hours later, Rollins died.
“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. He pursued the shooter, engaged the shooter and during that engagement he fired a round at the shooter, simultaneously the shooter fired a round as well,” Cameron said at the press briefing. “In the hours to come and the days to come, through detailed investigation, we will be able to determine if our school resource officers round struck the shooter, the school resource officer is uninjured and was not struck by any firearm projectile.”
It has now been confirmed that Rollins shot himself in the head and Gaskill also shot him in the head, but it was Rollins’ bullet that was fatal. His official cause of death has not yet been revealed, but suicide is suspected.
Cameron said the SRO and witnesses are being interviewed by detectives.
3. Willey Died From Her Injuries & Barnes Has Been Released From the Hospital
On Thursday, March 22, the Willey family held a press conference, announcing that they’d made the decision to take Jaelynn off of life support. Hours later, the sheriff’s office confirmed that she had died.
A YouCaring account was previously set up in an effort to raise money to help with Jaelynn’s medical expenses. So far, more than $60,000 has been raised. In recent days, Willey’s Facebook account had been changed to indicate that she had passed away, which was addressed in a recent YouCaring update.
“Today the snow fell thick and wet in southern Maryland, closing the schools down which seemed only fitting. Jaelynn loves the snow. I wish that she had been home today to sled with her little siblings. Instead it’s been 36 hours of being in critical condition after she was shot at her high school, a place that should be safe. I wish that I had some other update to give you all, other than that she is still in critical condition. We are aware that her facebook page has been set to memorialize and we are trying to get facebook to fix it,” the latest update from the Willey family read, in part. Hours later, however, the family held the aforementioned press conference.
The other injured student, Desmond Barnes, has been released from the hospital. A YouCaring account has been set up for him as well, and nearly $20,000 has been raised to assist him and his family in his recovery.
“He is doing well now but the long term effects of a such a tragedy are unknown. It’s unfortunate that in this day and age, our children cannot even feel safe at school. Desmond is an amazing child. He is an exceptionally bright young male with an extremely bright future ahead of him. He is constantly winning awards and receiving recognition in various areas of study, making his parents, siblings, and entire family proud,” Barnes’ YouCaring page reads, in part.
4. Families Were Asked to Go to Leonardtown High School for Reunification & the FBI Is Currently Investigating
Students are being led out of the school and are being transported to Leonardtown high School to meet with their parents. Police have asked that families do not go to Great Mills High School. The two schools are about 15 minutes away from one another.
“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,” a 10 a.m. Twitter update from the school read.
Parents and family members were told that they will need proper identification in order be reunited with their children.
Counselors were made available to assist parents and students at the reunification center, according to St. Mary County Public Schools.
Other schools in the area tweeted that their students and faculty are safe. These schools were in session and maintained normal daily schedules since the shooting. Several of the schools in the area cancelled their after school activities on the day of the shooting.
The FBI has arrived at Great Mills High School to investigate. Retired FBI supervisory special agent James Gagliano told CNN that authorities are going to be working to learn what happened this morning and will also be looking for a motive.
Additionally, special Agents from ATF Hyattsville are also on scene to assist the FBI and the local police in the investigation.
“Now begins the second phase of this operation and that’s the background and the investigation and the attempt for the school to return to normal, so to speak,” Sheriff Cameron told NBC Washington.
Maryland 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.”
Some students quickly reacted to the shooting on social media.
“The bell hasn’t even rung for 1st and the whole great mills is on lockdown,” a student tweeted just after 8 a.m. “You would never think this would happen to you.”
Another student, Mollie Davis, tweeted, “Hi Twitter. I am in Great Mills HS. My school is on a very real lockdown threat and there’s already someone possibly dead. Please pray for us.”
Davis, a student at the school, tweeted, “There was a loud sound and everyone started screaming and running.”
Another student, Jonathan Freese, told CNN he was in math class when the shooting occurred, “I’m still a little shaken up. I didn’t really expect for this to happen. I do always feel safe, though, because they always have police at the school.”
5. This Incident Happened 5 Weeks After a Shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida
On February 14, a shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, left 17 people dead and over a dozen wounded. Florida Senator Bill Nelson told CNN that suspect Nikolas Cruz, a former student, entered the school wearing a gas mask and carrying smoke grenades. Police recovered an AR-15 from the school. Cruz is facing the death penalty.
The shooting in Parkland inspired students to come together and take a stand against gun violence. The #NeverAgain movement was started by Douglas High School student, Cameron Kasky, and some of his friends. #NeverAgain offers students, many who are too young to vote, a voice in the ongoing gun debate.
On Saturday, March 24, students will be participating in the March for Our Lives event in Washington D.C. Additionally, marches will be held in various communities all over the country.
“On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today. March with us in Washington DC or march in your own community. On March 24, the collective voices of the March For Our Lives movement will be heard.”
According to CNN, some students from Great Mills High School were going to attend the march.
“We are here for you, students of Great Mills,” Parkland student activist Emma Gonzalez tweeted. “Together we can stop this from ever happening again,” she added.
Students at the school joined thousands of others around the country in a National School Walkout Day last Wednesday on the one-month anniversary of the February 14 shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.
Mollie Davis, a student who took part in the walk out and tweeted about the March 19 shooting, said, “I made this video 5 days ago. Now my school is the target. WHY DO WE LET THIS KEEP HAPPENING??? I’m so tired I’m so tired.”
Another Parkland survivor, Jaclyn Corin, tweeted, “Less than a WEEK ago Great Mills High School students walked out with us to protest gun violence…now they’re experiencing it for themselves. The state of our country is disgusting – I’m so sorry, Great Mills.”
Adam Alhanti tweeted, “The words School & Shooting should not be next to eachother. Headlines like this should not have to be typed up every week. All of these incidents have one thing in common. My thoughts are with Maryland right now.”
Sheriff Tim Cameron said there is one school resource officer assigned to the high school. Officers rushed to the school when the shooting was reported.
“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,” Cameron said. “And on this day, we realize our worst nightmare. That our greatest asset, our children, were attacked in a bastion of safety and security, one of our schools. Obviously that’s what we’re talking about right now across the country. The notion that it can’t happen here is no longer a notion. Despite training, you hope that you never have to do this, ever. We are a very tight-knit community and so now what I would ask our community to do is pray for those victims and hope that we can return to some type of normalcy in our schools and our community.”
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