WASHINGTON — Imagine walking down a school hallway and stumbling upon a shooting scene.
That’s what happened to a student at Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, last week. Now, she’s telling her story.
LeAire Livingston was on her way to class on March 20 when she accidentally bumped into another student — 17-year-old Austin Rollins — as he pointed a handgun at himself.
“When I looked up, I was getting ready to apologize, but I (saw) the gun to his head,” Livingston said at a school safety event Wednesday at the People’s Community Baptist Church in Silver Spring.
“I didn’t know what to do, so I just stood there first for a little bit,” Livingston said. “But once I realized that this was actually happening, I turned around and I ran into a classroom.”
Soon after, armed school resource officer Blaine Gaskill confronted Rollins and fired a round that hit the boy’s weapon at about the same time that Rollins shot himself. The teen was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
The violence at the school that day began when Rollins fired a shot that hit 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey in the head.
The same bullet left a 14-year-old boy with a leg injury.
A few days after the shooting, Willey died at a hospital after her family decided to remove her from life support.
Livingston said she’s afraid to go back to school when classes restart on Tuesday, April 3.
Also speaking Wednesday was Newell Rand, a 2017 graduate of Great Mills High who called Rollins a friend.
“He, that day, was not the same person that we all knew him as,” Rand said. “That day, he came out as a malicious young man who had one goal, and that was to harm others. But, what I want to say is that we must remember that his family is also suffering a loss, as well.”
Livingston, Rand and other young people at the event called for new gun control measures in the wake of the shooting.
The event included songs and prayers, but also speeches and discussion about what should be done to improve safety in schools.
“These politicians must get it together now. Save our schools. Save us as young members of society,” Rand said.
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