DIXON – The acclaimed hero of the Dixon High School shooting said he just did what any trained officer would have done in that situation.
On May 16, school resource officer Mark Dallas shot the 19-year-old shooter in the shoulder, likely preventing him from killing or injuring classmates, teachers and others gathered for graduation practice.
Dallas, speaking on NBC's "The Today Show" this morning, said the shooter entered Lancaster gym that morning, went into a bathroom, and came out firing a 9 mm semi-automatic rifle as he headed for the gym doors.
“I heard several shots ring out, I see a shooter in our lobby,” Dallas said. “I see a person in our lobby with a long gun.”
Dallas, who was in an office across the hall, recognized the sound – and the shooter – pulled his gun and began shouting at him.
“When you’re put in that stress, I guess the training makes such a difference that you revert back to it and it’s just automatic,” Dallas said. “It’s that muscle memory.”
The gym was filled with about 180 seniors rehearsing for the upcoming graduation ceremony. Among them was Dallas' son, Josh; his daughter, Lauren, a sophomore, also was in the building.
“I heard my dad scream at the shooter, and then that’s when I knew it was real,” said Josh, who also was interviewed. “I never once feared for my life, because I knew he would protect us all.”
As Dallas chased the shooter from the school, the 19-year-old turned and fired; Dallas fired back, hitting him in the shoulder. He was arrested in a nearby parking lot.
“It happened extremely fast,” Dallas said. “All my thought is, ‘Oh my God, he’s going to get someone over there. I need to continue, continue ... I was not going to let him get away.”
He didn't get to see Josh or Lauren until later that afternoon.
“We all embraced and I told them I loved them both and was glad that they were fine and we kind of shared some tears and some big hugs,” he said.
He said he was thankful no one else was hurt.
His voice breaking, Dallas noted that the members of this graduating class were freshmen when he became the SRO.
“I’m dad to all these kids, these guys, especially the senior class.”