Matthew Milby, a former student of Dixon High School who opened fire inside the school in May 2018, was sentenced to 30 years in jail on Tuesday.

Matt Milby (photo contributed)

Milby was sentenced to 30 years for shooting at the school resource officer and 30 years for shooting at a teacher, but the sentences will be served concurrently.

The officer, Mark Dallas, returned fire, injuring Milby and then arresting him.

Milby was charged with three counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm, which are Class X felonies, in 2018.

Milby will only have to serve 85 percent of the sentence, meaning he could be free after 25-plus years. He has served 1,601 days in Lee County Jail, and will be given credit for the time he has already served. He will also be given three years of supervised release after he serves his sentence. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office will coordinate with the Illinois Department of Corrections for his placement in the prison system.

Nearly a dozen people who were impacted by the shooting made victim statements before Milby’s sentencing in Lee County Court Tuesday, including Dallas and his wife Jennifer. They both argued that Milby should get the maximum possible sentence of 60 years, calling him dangerous. They also looked back on the times they used to call him a family friend.

“Matthew Milby has the same heart as Eric Harris. Matthew Milby has the same indiscriminate trigger finger as Dylan Klebold. He has the same deranged intentions as Adam Lanza,” Officer Dallas said, comparing Milby to the Columbine and Sandy Hook school shooters.

“They were gathered to prepare for their commencement ceremony, a celebration of their entry into adulthood,” Dallas continued, looking back on the day of the shooting. “My son was amongst them, but on that morning he was just (one of) 182 of my sons and daughters.”

“Matthew was a guest in our home on many occasions when the boys were younger, and we treated him like family,” Jennifer said. “But he obviously took a different path. This is how kindness is repaid.”

Another speaker asking Judge Redington for the maximum sentence was Jared Shaner, the current principal at Dixon High School and the assistant principal back in 2018. Shaner says the shooting still impacts him to this day as well.

“Not a day goes by where I, now as the principal of Dixon High School, don’t think about our students at the high school and their safety,” Shaner said.

But others argued that Milby should get the minimum sentence of ten years for shooting at Dallas and six for shooting at the teacher, Andrew McKay. People making those arguments included Donique Wilson, Milby’s sister, and Eric Arnquist, Milby’s defense attorney. They both maintained that Milby was a good kid with an abusive home life that led to mental health issues, and that he had no prior offenses other than traffic violations.

“The emotional violence was almost daily,” Wilson said of their home life. “The physical was at least averaging weekly. At one point, DCF forced us to move to Dixon because it was so bad.”

“You heard from his family that he was a good child, a good egg, that got broken again, and again, and again,” Arnquist said.

With the 30-year sentence handed down, not everyone left the courtroom satisfied. But many left with the hope that Milby’s sentencing can mark a new beginning for Dixon, and a chance for the community to heal.