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Sheriff: Maryland high school shooter died by shooting himself in the head

Austin Wyatt Rollins, the 17-year-old who opened fire on classmates at Great Mills High School in Southern Maryland last week, injuring one and killing another, died from shooting himself in the head, officials investigating the case said Monday.

According to details released by the St. Mary’s County sheriff’s office, Rollins parked his car at 7:50 a.m. and walked through the school’s main entrance two minutes later.

At 7:57 a.m., he approached classmate Jaelynn Willey, 16, and shot her once in the head with his father’s Glock 9-millimeter pistol. That bullet also struck 14-year-old Desmond Barnes in the leg.

After firing the handgun, Rollins kept walking through the school, where he was confronted by school resource officer Deputy First Class Blaine Gaskill just after 8 a.m. Their weapons went off simultaneously 31 seconds later, with Rollins shooting himself in the head and Gaskill shooting Rollins in the hand, officials said.

911 calls after the Great Mills High School shooting »

The shot Rollins fired was fatal, according to the sheriff’s office.

Gaskill was not injured. Rollins died later that morning at University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center in La Plata.

Willey, who had a relationship with Rollins that had ended recently, suffered injuries that proved fatal after she was taken off life support late Thursday night. Her funeral is planned for this Friday.

The sheriff’s report answered a question that had lingered about how Rollins died — whether he had taken his own life or Gaskill had fired a fatal shot.

In addition to the report, the sheriff’s office released 911 audio tapes related to the incident, calls that were made beginning at 7:58 a.m. The tapes include a call to dispatchers from Barnes, who had taken shelter in a classroom after being struck in the leg.

“I was just shot in my school,” Barnes tells the 911 dispatcher during a nearly 15-minute recording. “I was just shot at my school.”

In the background of the call, the voice of the school principal comes over the intercom telling students and teachers to go into lockdown.

A woman takes over the 911 call, telling the dispatcher she has Barnes lying down. She tells the dispatcher that she’s afraid to transport the boy to a safer place, but that he is in pain.

“You’ll be OK, you’ll be OK,” the woman whispers gently.

The dispatcher tells Barnes to stay calm, and that help is on the way. “Stay strong with me, buddy,” he urges.

“Yes, sir,” the 14-year-old responds.

Audio from another 911 call is from a woman who tells a dispatcher she is hiding behind her desk in a classroom in the art hallway, near the site of the shooting. Eleven other students are with her, she says.

“There’s a girl outside my door bleeding on the ground,” the woman tells the dispatcher, saying it appeared that the blood was coming from the girl’s head.

“I have no idea if she’s breathing,” the woman says.

In another 911 call, a girl urges the dispatcher to send help to Great Mills.

“There’s been a shooting here. Please come now,” the girl says.

The dispatcher asks what the problem is. “There’s a school shooting. Please...,” the girl answers.

“Where? Where?” asks the dispatcher.

The reply: “Here at Great Mills High School.”

The dispatcher is told that the girl and her classmates are locked in the classroom and that a teacher is with them.

“OK, how old are you, ma’am?” the dispatcher asks, and the girl answers: “I’m 17.”

More than 100 Great Mills students, alumni and staff joined the March for Our Lives in Washington on Saturday, many carrying signs in honor of Willey.

Online fundraising campaigns have raised more than $92,000 for Willey’s family and more than $23,000 for Barnes.

The shooting remains under investigation. The sheriff’s office has not yet said how Rollins gained access to his father’s gun, which was legally owned. The office also has said Rollins made no public social media threats before the shooting, but officials said they would take a close look at his accounts.

Classes are set to resume at Great Mills on April 2, after spring break this week.

A public service honoring Willey has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department in Hollywood. There also will be a visitation and a prayer service there Thursday afternoon, according to a funeral announcement from Brinsfield Funeral Homes and Crematory.

Willey was the second oldest of nine children, and has been remembered by family and friends as an active swimmer and dedicated student who loved the beach and helped take care of her siblings.

pwood@baltsun.com

twitter.com/pwoodreporter

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