A 16-year-old schoolgirl who was shot at her Maryland high school has died from her injuries on Thursday evening.
Jaelynn Willey was shot at Great Mills High School by fellow student, 17-year-old Austin Wyatt Rollins, on the morning of Tuesday March 20. The pair had reportedly been in a relationship together, but Jaelynn had recently ended things.
According to the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, Rollins used his father’s Glock semi-automatic handgun to shoot Jaelynn in the head in the school hallway.
Rollins died following an incident with an armed school resource officer, Blaine Gaskill.
Very sad news: Family of Jaelynn Willey, teen girl shot at Great Mills High Tuesday, just announced she will be taken off life support this evening. pic.twitter.com/TVJ6lRZZ7Y
— Tom Roussey (@tomrousseyABC7) March 23, 2018
Following the shooting, Jaelynn had been in critical condition at the University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center. A fundraising page to assist her family raised over $77,000.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday night, Jaelynn’s family spoke of how the teenager, who had been left brain dead, was to be taken off life support.
Jaelynn’s mother Melissa Willey said:
My daughter was hurt by a boy who shot her in the head…and took everything from our lives,
She’s brain dead. There’s nothing left in her. I felt like, as her mom, I needed to make that statement to everybody.
The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office have today made the following statement:
The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, on behalf of the Willey family, advises that on March 22, 2018, at 11:34 pm, Jaelynn Rose Willey died, surrounded by her family.
It is with heavy hearts and great sadness we provide this update.
— Debbie (@MsDianaFrances) March 23, 2018
In a previous statement, officers discussed the motivation behind the fatal shooting:
All indications suggest the shooting was not a random act of violence. Rollins and the female victim had a prior relationship which recently ended.
The investigation has not yet uncovered any public social media posts/threats made by Rollins. Detectives are continuing to interview friends, family, and associates of Rollins to obtain further information.
Once all facts are collected and verified, information will be disseminated to the public. Investigation has determined the handgun utilized by Rollins in the shooting was legally owned by Rollins’ father.
The second oldest of nine children, Jaelynn is known to have been a talented and dedicated swimmer. She swam competitively both for her school and for the private Great Mills Aquatic Club.
— morghan (@morghanmckennaa) March 23, 2018
Desmond Barnes, a 14-year-old male student was also injured during the shooting and is said to be in a stable condition.
According to The Washington Post, Desmond’s mother, Kimberly Dennis, has made the following statement:
Our entire family is eternally grateful that Desmond is alive, doing well and in good spirits. He is an amazing testimony.
We remain deeply saddened and shocked by this shooting incident and continue to pray for the other victim and her family during this difficult time.
We are also praying for the entire Great Mills High School family and young people around this country. As a community and nation, we must continue to work and fight for a world that is safe for our children.
Another school shooting has occurred and yet we still sit here and do nothing. I don't understand the US anymore. #jaelynnwilley
— Minh Nguyen (@a_p_nguyen_) March 21, 2018
Our thoughts are with the family of Jaelynn Willey at this difficult time.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence contact the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247. Do not suffer in silence.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.