While the nation’s attention rests squarely on Santa Fe High School and the ten students and teachers who were killed there on Friday, another story is unfolding. This one has a happier ending. When a former student came to school intent on killing, he was met with swift and decisive force by a school resource officer. And that man returned to the school on Sunday to watch the class of 2018, the class he protected, graduate.
“Just four days after a student opened fire inside Dixon High School,” WGN writes, “students of the Class of 2018 returned to the gym where it happened for their graduation ceremony Sunday.”
Mark Dallas actually led the procession into the gym. Dallas has a special connection to these students. After 19-year-old Matthew Milby shot at Dallas, the officer was able to return fire, injuring Milby.
“At 8:06 a.M., we all heard the shots. In a panic we all fled the scene, fearing four our lives. Today every single one of us in back in here with smiles on our faces and anticipation for the future,” Dixon graduate Emma Krull said. “From the class of 2018, we love you. You Mark Dallas are our hero, and we are all ‘Dixon strong.’”
“I was just very happy to have all of my classmates together, because imagine if something would have escalated more than it did,” graduate Madison Howard said.
“Certainly our hearts and our prayers go out to Santa Fe; it was very vivid for us… we knew because of Coach McKay’s actions and Officer Dallas’s actions there was no loss of life, that was a huge relief,” Dixon Mayor Liandro Arellano noted.
valedictorian Jared Harrison used his remarks to celebrate the accomplishments of his class, taking time to joke about a different shared distraction: an ongoing school renovation project.
Dallas fired several shots at Milby as the incident took place, striking him in the upper shoulder, according to a report by Blue Lives Matter. Dallas was not harmed during the encounter.
Dixon, Illinois, Police Chief Steven Howell credited Dallas for his quick response, stating that the shooting could have turned out much different had the resource officer not intervened.
“I could not be more proud of the police officer and the way he responded to the situation,” said Howell. “With shots ringing out through the hallways of the school, he charged towards the suspect and confronted him, head on.”
“Because of his heroic actions, countless lives were saved,” he continued. “We are forever indebted to him for his service and his bravery.”