The officer who exchanged gun fire with a student who shot two classmates at Great Mills High School in Maryland Tuesday morning is Blaine Gaskill, a 34-year-old St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Deputy providing security at the school.
Officials didn’t confirm whether Gaskill hit the attacker, who was pronounced dead and has not been identified, or whether he took his own life. But if Gaskill’s shot stopped him, the deputy would be only second resource officer to gun down an active school shooter since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, according to a year-long Washington Post analysis of dozens of school shootings.
In either case, St. Mary’s County Sheriff Timothy Cameron said there was “no question” that Gaskill’s quick arrival at the scene and immediate engagement with the shooter prevented more injuries.
Gaskill was not injured, Cameron said. Two students, ages 16 and 14, were taken to the hospital in critical condition.
The number of school resource officers across the nation remains unknown, with no central agency tracking that data. The National Association of School Resource Officers has about 4,500 members but the organization estimates that there could be anywhere from 14,000 to 20,000 school resource officers across the country.
Gaskill has had encounters with armed suspects before. In July of 2016 he responded to a call not far from the high school where a man confronted him on the porch of a house with a pistol in his hand. In footage recorded by Gaskill’s body camera, he is heard shouting at the man to put the gun down. The man refuses at first but eventually complies and is arrested with no shots fired. The man was found guilty in February of first degree assault and use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence, according to reports.
A Facebook page for a woman who appears to be the officer’s wife, Amber Gaskill, features a series of inspirational messages. One, pictures against a backdrop of the American flag, reads: “I’m a wife standing with the Thin Blue Line”
In February she posted a picture of a fallen Prince George’s Cpl. Mujahid Ramzziddin and wrote: “This makes me so, so sad….and hits so close to home. My heart breaks for his family.”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Steve Hendrix