The Dixon High School resource officer who stopped an armed former student from shooting anyone inside the building is being hailed a hero for his efforts.
Authorities have not named the school resource officer, but Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner tweeted his thanks to the officer, naming him as Mark Dallas.
Today, we should all be very thankful to school resource officer Mark Dallas for his bravery and quick action to immediately diffuse a dangerous situation at Dixon High School.— Governor Rauner (@GovRauner) May 16, 2018
The shooting happened at 8:06 Wednesday morning near the gym of Dixon High School. Seniors were inside the gym discussing details about their upcoming graduation when a 19-year-old former student started shooting. That resource officer, who is not named at this time, confronted the suspect. The suspect shot at the officer, and the officer returned fire, striking and stopping the suspect.
"With shots ringing out toward the school, he charged toward the suspect head on," said Dixon Police Chief Steve Howell. "We are forever indebted to his bravery.
The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave, per department policy. He has not been named at this time. The suspect was injured in the shooting but is expected to be OK.
Lee County Sheriff John Simonton praised the officer for his efforts, and said training by law enforcement with the school kept this situation from turning deadly. He says when officers went inside the school, students and staff had barricaded the doors to the classroom in an effort to keep an intruder out. He says relationships built between law enforcement, emergency responders and the district were live-saving Wednesday.
"I can not tell you that in an incident like this how critical that is. Being able to think swiftly on your feet is more amazing to me," Simonton said. "It's certainly a horrific event, however it could have been a lot worse. Because of the school resource officer and the schools itself, it wasn't."
Officials did not take questions at an 11:30 a.m. media conference, but have been providing multiple updates throughout the morning. While the investigation is early, Lee County State's Attorney Matt Klein promised a thorough investigation and appropriate charges in the case.
At the end of the news conference, Dixon School District Superintendent Margo Empen thanked law enforcement and the community for their support, and to parents, students and staff for their bravery.
13 News is in Dixon this afternoon to bring you live coverage throughout the day. Tune in to 13 News at 5 & 6 for more full coverage.