Wednesday, May 16, 2018, could have been a day of mourning for parents of Dixon High School seniors, after a former student reportedly fired several shots inside the gym. School resource officer Mark Dallas confronted and took down the shooter, who has been identified as 19-year-old Matthew Milby. Dallas prevented a possible mass shooting and is being hailed as a hero.
Just after 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, as seniors of Dixon High School in Illinois gathered in the gym to practice for their graduation, shots were fired. Students described the shots as sounding like “firecrackers” going off in the school gym. They were confused at first, with some even laughing before seeing parts of the ceiling fall and learning that it was actual gunfire and not a school prank.
Then, “pandemonium broke out,” and panicking students began rushing out of the gym. Some heard as many as five shots being fired.
Bravely Confronting the Gunman
One man who was quick to recognize the sound as gunshots was the school resource officer, Mark Dallas.
While everybody was trying to get away from the shooter, Dallas rushed towards the gunman.
Matthew Milby, a former student of the high school, reportedly ran out of the school when he saw the resource officer coming after him.
Milby fired at Dallas, but fortunately, the officer was not hit. Dallas returned fire and hit and injured Milby in the shoulder.
The alleged shooter was the only person reportedly injured in this incident.
Dallas called emergency responders to inform them that shots were fired outside the Dixon High School gymnasium. Milby was immediately taken into custody and treated for his wounds at the hospital, which were not life-threatening.
Students Follow Emergency Procedures
Some students and teachers barricaded themselves in classrooms after they heard the gunshots. This was in accordance with the training they received on what to do when their school was faced with a shooter.
They opened the classroom doors only after seeing officers outside. The students then boarded buses to be reunited with their parents, who were waiting for them at a local park.
Students Recount the Horrific Experience
Some students spoke to the media after the incident, describing the shooting and its aftermath. Evelyn Ebersohl and Brandon Stehl were both inside the gym when they heard the gunshots.
Stehl said, “Then all of a sudden you hear the gunshots and everybody looks over. People were laughing at first, and then pandemonium broke out. People were rushing out all through the same door, it was just complete panic.”
Ebersohl was grateful to Officer Mark Dallas and said, “I think it was very brave of him. You hear stories of officers hiding, not doing anything, and that’s not what he did. He went in and faced the problem head-on.”
Another student, Devin Scott, 18, said that their gym teacher, Andrew McKay, came running into the gym where many students were hiding and shouted at everybody to get out immediately.
Scott said, “We all got up, and everyone started running toward the door. Some people didn’t take it seriously. They thought it was firecrackers. Some people did. They started crying as they were running.”
Talking about Officer Dallas and Andrew McKay, Scott said, “I feel like [Mark Dallas] is a hero. I feel like Mr. McKay is a hero.”
Praise from All Quarters
It wasn’t just the students who were grateful to Mark Dallas for saving their lives, and potentially preventing a mass shooting.
Dixon Police Chief Steven Howell Jr. praised Dallas for his timely action and said, “I could not be more proud of the police officer and the way he responded to the situation. While shots were ringing out through the hallways of the school, he charged towards the suspect and confronted him head-on.”
Leah Saunders, who teaches at a neighboring school said, “One second sooner, one second later we could be looking at a very different situation right now.”
Dallas has now been placed on administrative leave, following protocol for officer-involved shooting. Praise for him came pouring in from all across the spectrum, including Mayor Liandro Arellano Jr. and Rep. Adam Kinzinger.
On Wednesday, May 16, Kinzinger said in a statement, “As we continue to gather more information about the shooting incident at Dixon High School this morning, I extend my deepest gratitude to the Dixon Police Department, and especially the School Resource Officer (SRO) on-site, for their swift action today and for keeping our students, teachers, and our community safe.”
Meanwhile, at a press conference, Mayor Arellano Jr. said, “A lot of things went right today when a great many of them could have gone wrong. Things could have gone much worse.”
Shooter Faces Multiple Charges
The alleged shooter, 19-year-old Matthew Milby, faces three charges of aggravated discharge of a firearm, which are all Class X felonies that carry a six to 30 year prison sentence. A bond has been set for $2.0 million.
Milby was reportedly still in hospital on Wednesday evening; once released, he will be taken to Lee County jail.
Shooter’s Mother Speaks
The media spoke to Julie Milby, Matthew Milby’s mother, who said that her son was “ostracized” at Dixon High School and had to finish his credits outside of class.
She claims that he was beaten up at school in October 2017 and added, “I know that he’s been very sad for a long time. Well, my kid is laying up at the hospital shot. Thank God they didn’t kill him, that’s a blessing. Thank God he didn’t kill anyone else.”
Julie Milby grew up with Mark Dallas and spoke about him, saying, “I honestly would have to tell him thank you because I think in most cases they would kill [Matthew Milby].”
No Known Motive for Shooting Yet
Police believe that Matthew Milby acted alone and there was no threat to anyone in the area once he was apprehended. A motive for the shooting was not revealed.
Police declined to comment on why Milby brought a gun to the school.
Police Initiative Saves Many Lives
The school resource officer position worked with the Dixon Police Department in 2000 to help prevent violence in schools. And it paid off massively on Wednesday, May 16, 2018.
Nobody else was injured at Dixon High School during Wednesday’s shooting. The collective actions of brave people in the school saved many lives.