Maryland Officer Who Stopped School Shooting Has Saved Lives Before
A school resource officer in Maryland who stopped a shooting on Tuesday has saved lives before.
Blaine Gaskill, a St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office deputy, confronted an armed student inside Great Mills High School after the student had shot two other students.
Gaskill fired a round at the student at the same time that the student fired at him.
The student, identified as Austin Wyatt Rollins, was hit and later died, although Sheriff Tim Cameron said the student may have killed himself.
Gaskill was not hit.
Gaskill contained the situation within one minute of the initial shot being fired, Cameron said.
Cameron and Gov. Larry Hogan praised Gaskill for his quick action.
“Had a very capable school resource officer that also happened to be a S.W.A.T. team member,” Hogan said at a news conference, reported ABC. “This is a tough guy who apparently closed in very quickly and took the right kind of action. And I think while it’s still tragic, he may have saved other people’s lives.”
“He had to cover significant ground,” Cameron added, reported The Associated Press. “The premise is simple: You go to the sound of gunfire.”
Gaskill has confronted danger before when he encountered an armed suspect in 2016.
Gaskill responded to a home off Stoney Run Drive to confront a man who was arguing with his wife. A neighbor had called 911.
“Pekka Robert Heinonen [was] standing on the porch, pointing a gun at me,” Gaskill wrote in a statement of probable cause, reported The Enterprise.
“I ordered the defendant to drop the gun, at which point … his wife walked between us. The defendant refused to comply with my demands, …. [until his wife] convinced him to drop the gun.”
Gaskill made the right move, Cameron said at the time.
“In that split second, a decision has to be made,” Cameron said of the standoff. “In this case, the officer used exemplary judgment.”
St. Mary’s State’s Attorney Richard D. Fritz said that Gaskill would have been “entirely justified” in shooting Heinonen, but the standoff ended without any shots fired.