ATF runs emergency trace on gun used in Md. school shooting

WASHINGTON — Federal agents are tracing the history of the gun investigators said was used in the shooting at Great Mills High School, in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.

Hours after investigators said Austin Rollins, 17, opened fire in his school hallway, St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron spoke about tracing the gun in a news conference.

“The ATF initiated an emergency trace on the gun,” Cameron said.

His department put in a request for an urgent order, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to learn how the Great Mills High School student had access to the gun.

“It was a Glock semi-automatic handgun. I don’t know how much ammunition was in it,” Cameron said at the time.

When the department issues an urgent trace request, it can also mark why that emergency status is needed, said Amanda Hils, with the ATF. She said an emergency trace can be turned around within 24 hours.

“The information about the firearm including the make, model and serial number has been submitted to ATF’s National Tracing Center. And they are requesting to know who the initial purchaser of the firearm was,” Hils said.

Once the federal firearms licensee confirms to investigators who purchased the firearm, investigators begin to trace its history of ownership, which can vary depending on the date of purchase and the gun itself.

“The eTrace system allows a law enforcement agency to conduct comprehensive traces of recovered crime guns and establish an information platform for developing the best investigative strategies to reduce firearms-related crime and violence,” a fact sheet on the bureau’s website said.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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