Great Mills High School students, parents shaken in aftermath of fatal shooting

- Students and parents were shaken after a teen opened fire at Great Mills High School in St. Mary's County, which resulted in two students being injured.

Two students, a 16-year-old girl, and a 14-year-old boy, were both hurt. The student who opened fire was fatally shot and killed after being confronted by Deputy First Class Blaine Gaskill, a school resource officer. 

Nearly 1,400 students were evacuated from the school after the incident. Students were then taken by bus to nearby Leonardtown High School, where parents and guardians were instructed to pick them up.

This incident comes a little over a month since a mass shooting claimed the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Now on Tuesday, parents and students in the small Southern Maryland community of Great Mills are coming to grips with reality as another shooting happens, this time, so close to home.

Tyriq Wheeler, an 11th grader at Great Mills had t  aken part in a protest for the school shooting in Parkland had just the week before. Wheeler says he heard the gunshot inside the school.

"I was talking to my gym teacher, Mr. Griff, and I started walking down the hallway to get to class. And usually there is a whole bunch of group of people in the usual spot, but nobody was there. So that was kind of out of character. And then as I look down, I heard a loud bang, and everybody started running. So I was confused. So I just went straight to my classroom," he said.

"We got in the classroom, they locked the door, and as we were sitting in the classroom, everybody was trying to remain calm but, it was kind of hard because of what we just heard. And that's when the police officers came in there, made sure nobody else had a weapon. And they was checking every single room until we got in the cafeteria. I tried to call, but I wasn't able to get through at first. So when they brought us to the tech center, I was able to use their phone and call my grandmother. And she let me know that they were already on their way," he said.

Wheeler's mom, Darlena Montague, says she was anxious to get a hold of her son.

"I was just thinking I wanted to get my son. I was scared because I had been trying to call the school, I didn't get no answer, so, I didn't know if my son was one of the kids that got wounded. So I was just very nervous. And it was just very frightening."

Father and son Fred and Matthew Lancaster also expressed their anxiety going through the situation, as Matthew waited for police to make sure he and other students were safe, as his dad, Fred, and other parents tried to make sure their kids weren't hurt.

"Well, most of us in the library, we were very calm. We were all following directions, we all gathered around the books, and then we kind of sat down. We were quiet, just were on the phones, texting our parent left and right," said Matthew Lancaster.

Fred Lancaster said he was impressed by the response by local law enforcement.

"From the time of my text, from the time he started at about 8:06, the police were there very quickly. He said they had come in armed and looking for an active shooter. So the response from our local sheriff's department and state police was excellent," he said.

The father and son texted back and forth, as Matthew Lancaster was able to tell his dad he was okay.

"I asked him where, because the active shooter, where are you at, get behind something, are other people with you, do you have adults with you? And, you know, so he was safe, school kept him, the adults that were there kept him very safe," said Fred Lancaster.

Great Mills High parent Maria Sanchez Sokolowski had exchanged heart-wrenching texts with her daughter Trinity and tried to calm her down as they exchange "I love you's."

Matthew Lancaster said it was tough at times to handle the thoughts and stress of the situation.

"I was thinking about all of the other times I thought to myself what would I do, and I was thinking about all of the things that I could have done, that I could do to save myself and my classmates. I was just kind of was praying," he said.

Jaelynn Willey, 16, was seriously injured in the shooting and is now in critical condition in the intensive care unit at UM Prince George’s Hospital Center. There is now A YouCaring fundraising page for her medical bills.

A 14-year-old male student who was also injured in the shooting, suffered a gunshot wound to the thigh. He was taken to MedStar St. Mary's Hospital and is in good condition, hospital officials said.

Many of the students at Great Falls praised their teachers, and said that the teachers knew exactly what to do, and kept them calm in a very tense and frightening situation.

Up Next:


  • Popular

  • Recent

More Stories You May Be Interested In - Includes Advertiser Stories