Armed Officer Confronts Maryland School Shooter, Hogan Hits Legislators

Governor says 'it's outrageous we haven't taken' important steps yet in protecting students after Great Mills High attack

An armed school resource officer at Great Mills High School in Maryland engaged a gunman Tuesday — who shot and wounded two students with a handgun before succumbing to his own injuries, officials said.

It remains unclear whether gunman Austin Wyatt Rollins, 17, died after being shot by Deputy Blaine Gaskill or whether he died after attempting suicide. But Gaskill, a SWAT team member, has been hailed as a hero for immediately responding to the shooting.

The Maryland incident comes barely a month after armed Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson waited outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, while gunman Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 victims.

“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 during a press conference Tuesday. “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.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) thanked first responders who “swiftly and bravely took action to secure the school. The first lady and I are praying for those who were injured, their families and loved ones, and for the entire Great Mills community as they come together to heal in the wake of this horrific situation.”

Hogan said, however, that “prayers are not enough. Although our pain remains fresh and the facts remain uncertain, today’s horrible events should not be an excuse to pause our conversation about school safety. Instead, it must serve as a call to action.”

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The kind of “action” Hogan called for, though, wasn’t exactly the kind of “action” that many pro-gun control Parkland shooting survivors have been demanding — and are preparing to march about on Saturday in Washington, D.C.

“We’ve got to take action. We’ve got one of the most aggressive school safety plans in America that we introduced several weeks ago as emergency legislation in Annapolis. But legislators failed to take action on it,” Hogan said during a news conference Tuesday.

“We put $125 million into school safety, $50 million a year in additional school resource officers like the great deputy sheriff that saved further people from being injured and killed today,” Hogan continued. “We’re going to continue to support law enforcement at every level, all of our first responders. We’re going to be here for the community.”

Hogan pledged that “we’re going to try and get something done in Annapolis” to promote school safety measures in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Great Mills high school shootings.

“We’ve only got less than three weeks left in the legislative session, and to me it’s outrageous that we haven’t taken action yet on something so important as school safety,” Hogan said. “We’re going to fight to make sure it gets done, and we hope you will help us do that.”

But after the Parkland high school shooting on February 14, mainstream media outlets heavily promoted the most vocal survivors who called for gun control legislation and slammed the National Rifle Association (NRA) and GOP lawmakers.

Many of these students also rejected ideas pushed by President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers to arm and train volunteer teachers and boost the numbers of armed school safety officers, saying they didn’t go far enough.

Related: CBS Anchors Allow Parkland Survivors to Smear NRA Without Pushback

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos heads a new White House commission examining the methods and tools necessary to strengthen and secure schools against deadly school shootings. DeVos told NBC’s “Today” show last week that “everything is on the table” when it comes to securing schools and protecting students.

Florida passed a bill raising the minimum firearm purchasing age from 18 to 21 and funding programs to arm and train school resource officers and teachers.

Andrew Pollack, whose daughter, Meadow, was killed during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, said that “part of the problem is the media” and its gun control obsession during an interview on MSNBC earlier in March.

“And it takes away from the focus of what’s important to me, and I think a majority of Americans. They want to just know their kids are safe,” Pollack said. “So every time the media starts talking about gun control, it takes away from our objective of making our schools safe, which is achievable right now if we come together.”

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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