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DIXON — A 19-year-old who showed up at his former high school and opened fire on a police officer working there was shot by the officer and taken into custody Wednesday morning.

The officer, who was not injured, was hailed a hero for his quick response protecting students and staff who had gathered at Dixon High School for a graduation rehearsal.

"He saved an enormous amount of lives," Lee County Sheriff John Simonton. His comments were echoed by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who in a statement credited "school resource officer Mark Dallas for his bravery and quick action to immediately diffuse a dangerous situation."

The teen gunman, whose name has not been released, suffered nonlife-threatening injuries.

The shooting happened shortly after 8 a.m. Police Chief Steven Howell Jr. told reporters that the officer called to report that he'd spotted an armed male at the school. He said the officer confronted the former student near the school's west gym and as ran after him, the suspect fired several shots at the officer.

Howell said the officer returned fire, shot the suspect and took him into custody. Neither the officer nor anyone else at the school was injured. Police said they believe the gunman acted alone and that there was no further threat to anyone in the area. Howell declined to discuss why the former student brought a gun to the school.

When police searched the school they found that the faculty and students had barricaded themselves inside by blocking the classroom doorways with desks, chairs and other furniture — just as they had been trained to do.

"A lot of things went right today and many things could have gone wrong," Dixon Mayor Liandro Arellano Jr., told reporters at a news conference outside the school, which is about 80 miles west of Chicago. 

Officials said all schools in the city were placed on lockdown in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. The other schools re-opened after officials determined the gunman acted alone.

Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin in a statement credited Dallas with "quick, brave actions" that "saved many lives."

The incident comes eight months after a shooting at Mattoon high school. A freshman is accused of opening fire in the cafeteria before being subdued by a teacher. 

Majority of U.S. teens worry a shooting could happen at their school

In February, 17 people died in a shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, in the deadliest high school shooting in American history. 

A Pew Research Center study in April said 57 percent of teens say they are worried about the possibility of a shooting happening at their school.


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