Thursday was the first day back in Dixon High School for many of its staff and students, one day after gunshots filled the halls.
While classes were called off, it is still leaving many in this community how it could happen in Dixon.
The suspect, 19-year-old Matthew Milby was released from the hospital late Thursday morning and processed into the Lee County Jail.
He is facing three felony charges for bringing a semi-automatic rifle into the school and opening fire in the hall.
Investigators said that gun was purchased by his mother back in 2012.
Police have yet to confirm the motive for the attack.
He is scheduled to be arraigned on those charges on May 18, 2018.
It’s as more praise come in for Dixon School Resource Officer Mark Dallas for his quick intervention and apprehension of the former students.
Police said Milby fired at the officer, and while Dallas shot back, injuring the young man and arresting him.
The City Manager said Officer Dallas spoke with Governor Bruce Rauner Thursday morning and there might be a phone call with President Trump.
Dallas has 24 years of experiences in law enforcement, 15 years at Dixon and the last five at the school.
City leaders said the support police, the school and students are receiving from near and across the country has been incredible and appreciated.
It’s as many in this town are still processing the shock and disbelief this incident has left in its wake and wonder where things go moving forward.
Dixon City Manager Danny Langloss said, “People are shaken, people are concerned.”
A city still on edge, coming to terms with how close this community and school came to not just horror but tragedy.
Police Chief Steve Howell said, “You train your whole career to prevent this kind of incident from occurring, hoping it never happens.”
Now, Dixon is facing the aftermath of their high school becoming a crime scene. It’s a pain felt by those behind the badge, having officers relying not just on the support from their community but those who also serve.
“Peer support group that we have within the department where we can sit, discuss the situation. Too, we’ll also be having debriefing situation occur sometime this week or the ladder part of next week,” said Howell.
For Dixon Chief Steve Howell, he and everyone else in this town are thankful for School Resource Officer Mark Dallas’s quick response.
Howell said, “The training kick in for Officer Dallas. A selfless act. Heroic act. Chase the individual down, saved a lot of lives.”
For Howell and his department, it’s lives part of their off-duty life. Between police and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, more than a dozen of the sworn had kids in the high school’s halls.
Howell said, “In the moment they’re doing their job and task at hand and then for them to understand that they’re child is in that vicinity was there too, definitely a difficult situation for them to stay focus, but once the incident’s secured and they’re able to reach out to their family, it was a great moment for them.”
While Howell said it’s a relief they and all parents in this community get to hug their kids, he and the school now focus on how to keep students from facing this threat again.
“Talk with the school on that. I know they’re taking measures currently with the video surveillance and how to minimize the doors for entry into the school in the morning’s and after school,” said Howell.
Right now, Howell and his predecessor, Dixon City Manager Danny Langloss are hoping the community will rally as they not only look for the end of the school year but to send off the class of 2018.
Langloss said, “Everybody to come together and just be grateful to the community we have and the outcome here because really there was some divine intervention for nobody to get hurt. For things to play out as they did.”
Langloss is among the parents grateful for Officer Dallas’s action. His daughter is a senior at the school and was among those practicing for graduation Sunday in the gym when Milby opened fired.
“That me and my family and so many other families could have been planning funerals instead of graduation parties and because of the response, all of the training that we’ve done for our officers, for staff, for students, the quick thought of the teacher that was inside that had initially been shot at,” said Langloss.
Both Langloss and Howell said it’s also fortunate that Milby is alive for his family’s comfort and that he can get the help he needs.
Additional resources in the community are also being made available by the hospital and mental health providers for students to have access to counseling or someone to speak with.
A lot of the focus of many now in Dixon is Sunday’s Graduation Ceremony.
Seniors were back to finish the graduation practice interrupted Wednesday.
Langloss said they’re taking extra steps for safety.
“The graduation prep that happens today, the ceremony that happens on Sunday will be the safest place in this community. We will have a very good police presence there, and nobody will have any concern or fear for their safety,” said Langloss.
He said in addition to providing protection; it’s also meant to give some peace of mind for those still processing the shooting.
An attorney for Officer Dallas released the following statement:
“The terrible incident occurred as students assembled to rehearse for their high school graduation. Somewhere, in the midst of the chaos, a lesson might be heard: our world truly can be changed when we refuse to hide from adversity but instead run toward it. Officer Mark Dallas ran into a hail of bullets. He did so to save the lives of the students and staff he was sworn to protect. Mark’s own son was among those assembled in the gymnasium for graduation rehearsal yesterday morning. He understands, first hand, the grave fears of parents who sent their children to school yesterday, believing them to be safe. With his actions, he has safely returned those students to their anxious parents. Mark is humbled by the tremendous outpouring of support for his actions at Dixon High School. He genuinely appreciates those who have referred to him as a hero. But Mark prefers different labels. His greatest pride stems from the titles, “Police Officer,” “Husband,” and, most of all, “Dad.” Mark’s obligation to serve the law did not stop at the end of his watch yesterday. He must now follow the proper procedures that necessarily arise after this incident.”