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Our view: Training, actions likely saved lives at Dixon High

A Dixon officer patrols the campus Wednesday morning following a shooting on campus. Lee County, ISP, Amboy, Sterling and Rock Falls were some of the local departments that helped at the scene.
A Dixon officer patrols the campus Wednesday morning following a shooting on campus. Lee County, ISP, Amboy, Sterling and Rock Falls were some of the local departments that helped at the scene.

It happened in Dixon.

Thankfully, perhaps miraculously, no one was killed.

A student with a gun walked into the gymnasium at Dixon High School, where his classmates were practicing for graduation Wednesday morning.

Shots were fired. Two heroes emerged.

Gym teacher Andrew McKay closed the door to the foyer and told the students in the gym to, “Go, go, go.”

School resource officer Mark Dallas, a member of the Dixon Police Department and a father of one of the soon-to-be graduates in the gym, pursued and shot the suspect in the shoulder.

Both likely saved lives by their quick actions.

The suspect, Matt Milby, 19, was in custody Wednesday and being treated at KSB Hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening.

Stories of school shootings have become heartbreakingly familiar. But this one happened here.

Yet, Dixon will not be remembered along with Parkland, Sandy Hook and Columbine. Because there were two heroes, and because Dixon School District 170 and law enforcement were prepared to respond, no one died in this school shooting.

It could have been so much worse.

Regardless of your position on the debate about guns in America, it is undeniable that having a trained officer with a gun nearby was a blessing Wednesday at the high school. The shooter never was able to fire at students.

“Thank God they didn’t kill him. Thank God he don’t kill anyone,” said Julie Milby, the shooter’s mother.

And as awful as it is that students in America must be taught what to do when there is an active shooter in their school, that training appears to have made a difference Wednesday.

“I think we were all prepared, and we had our natural instincts,” said Kylie Shaw, a senior at Dixon High who was in the gym. “I think everyone did an amazing job of following directions and doing what they had to do.”

Throughout the rest of the school, students and teachers were barricading themselves by blocking classroom doorways with desks, chairs and other furniture – just as they had been trained to do.

There are questions that must still be answered.

Why did Matt Milby bring a gun to school, and where did he get the weapon? How was he able to get into the school with ease?

What was Milby’s status as a student at the school? Sauk Valley Media received some conflicting information Wednesday.

Why was the school resource officer in the gymnasium? Was it fortunate planning, or was it simply good fortune?

All of these questions will be answered in time. But these things we know.

Those in the gym and perhaps elsewhere in the school are fortunate that officer Mark Dallas and teacher Andrew McKay knew what to do, and acted quickly.

The training that staff and students at Dixon High School had done to prepare for an active shooter incident paid off. Both students and staff knew what to do, and they did it quickly.

And because all were prepared and did what needed to be done, everyone who walked into Dixon High School on Wednesday is alive today. For that, we’re grateful.

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