Dixon, IL — At 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning, a former high school student, 19, brought a firearm to Dixon High School as the students were reportedly preparing for their graduation. According to Daily News, the assailant opened fire, which caught the attention of the school resource officer, Mark Dallas. The two fired at one another and Dallas gave chase — soon he shot the shooter and was able to apprehend him.
Once the shooter was disarmed, he was taken into custody where authorities treated his wounds — he is fully expected to survive.
Students and faculty had barricaded themselves into their rooms, using whatever they had to keep the shooter from potentially entering and killing many. By mid-day, students were authorized to exit the school and get back to their vehicles.
Exactly what type of weapon was used is currently unknown.
This is not the only shooting that has been prevented by law enforcement. In March, a 17-year-old shooter brought a Glock Great Mills High School in Maryland. One 16-year-old, Jaelynn Willey, died as a result of wounds sustained from the shooter. Another 14-year-old was shot, but was not killed and would soon be discharged from the hospital.
Deputy First Class Blaine Gaskill, the school’s resource officer, opened fire on the assailant. It was not determined if the shooter killed himself, or Gaskill’s round killed him, but either way it was Gaskill’s actions that stopped the shooting. Once the threat was down, Gaskill performed first aid on the wounded, alongside other school staff.
All of this comes after the devastating shooting in Parkland, FL that has captivated the hearts and minds of the nation, as well as being a source of controversy regarding gun control.
Had the school shooter killed the resource officer, or had the resource officer not been there, it is difficult to tell what might have happened. It seems very likely that at least several (possibly many) people would have been killed and more wounded.
As for the actions of Officer Mark Dallas — engaging a target in a school would be incredibly difficult, and his actions are very admirable. Any professional shooter knows that when firing on a target, one must keep in mind exactly what is behind the target as well. In a school, it is very possible that a number of innocent people — many of which are children — will be behind the shooter. Accuracy and discretion are key in these situations, and Officer Dallas performed exceptionally.
Schools are also very enclosed, especially American schools nowadays. This is due to security concerns, but it sort of turns the school into a prison during an active shooter situation. While that means it might be easier to barricade yourself away from a shooter, it might also mean increased risk of death if the shooter can get in the same room with you (nowhere to run). This would also be a consideration for Officer Dallas as he navigates tight corners and through hallways that are a prime example of a “fatal funnel,” which essentially encourages ricocheting rounds to continue down the hall.
In 2002, I was involved in a school shooting overseas. Combining that with my tactical experience later, I have come to have a fleshed-out perspective on the mechanics of shootings such as these. When it comes to barricading, I saw this work first-hand. The shooter is likely going to be in a heightened state of excitement, and probably won’t be making cool judgement calls like one might think. If his goal is to shoot as many people as possible, in his excited mind he may try one locked door — maybe shoot it a couple of times or try to kick it — but if he can’t find his way in, it is likely that he’ll just move on to an easier target, if he can find one.
In the school shooting I went through, someone barricaded themselves into a door that had no lock (he jumped into the door, a shooter on his heels, and then realized it couldn’t be locked). It was a pull-door, and the shooter was just around the corner when he barreled inside of it. The shooter tried to push it, failed, and immediately went on somewhere else.
This may sound ridiculous and illogical, but when people don’t have training and methodology behind their actions in combat, they will almost always make ridiculous and illogical choices.
I generally stay out of the politics of school shootings, but I’m glad that Officer Dallas was there to save lives on Wednesday.
Featured image courtesy of Google.