Police and city officials are praising a school resource officer for stopping an alleged gunman at a high school in Dixon, Illinois Wednesday morning, saying his "heroic" actions saved "countless" lives.
"A lot of things went right today when a great many of them could have gone wrong," said Dixon Mayor Liandro Arellano Jr.
According to Dixon Police Chief Steve Howell, the school resource officer, later identified as Officer Mark Dallas, "confronted an armed male subject" around 8 a.m. at Dixon High School after several shots were reported fired near the school's west gym.
The armed teen fled from the responding officer, allegedly firing shots as he ran. The school resource officer returned fire, injuring the suspect, authorities said.
The injuries are believed to be non-life threatening and the suspect, identified only as a 19-year-old former student at the school, was taken into custody. No other injuries were reported.
Police said they believed the suspect "acted alone" and there was no further threat to students or staff.
"With shots ringing out through the hallways of the school, he charged towards the suspect and confronted him head on," Howell said. "Because of his heroic actions, countless lives were saved. We are forever indebted to him for his service and his bravery."
Dixon High School and all Dixon public schools were placed on lockdown following the shooting.
"All of a sudden out of nowhere you just hear pop pop pop!" said former student Brandon Stehl, who was at the school preparing for graduation. "Sounds like firecrackers, and then there's dead silence. Then, all of a sudden, a teacher comes in and says, 'Go go go go!' and everybody floods out of the school, running over to pizzeria."
Dixon High School remained the only school on lockdown shortly after 11 a.m., though all students had been reunited with their parents, Howell said.
Howell noted that when police arrived at the scene, students and teachers were found barricaded in their classrooms, blocking doors with desks and bookshelves.
Dixon who is a 15-year veteran of the Dixon Police Department with 24 total years of law enforcement experience, was being placed on administrative leave, per department policy.
“We are extremely grateful that all of the students and staff at Dixon High School will be able to return to their homes unharmed today,” FOP Labor Council Executive Director Shawn Roselieb said in a statement. “The officer's actions at the high school will be closely scrutinized, but the simple fact is, nobody but the gunman was hurt today, and keeping students and teachers safe is the primary job for school resource officers.”
Dixon has been a school resource officer at Dixon High School for five years.
He will not be available for any media interviews until after he is formally interviewed by the Illinois State Police, officials said.