Dixon shooter used semi-automatic rifle his mom bought in 2012, police say

DIXON, Ill. — The accused gunman at Dixon High School used a semi-automatic rifle purchased by his mother in 2012, state police said Thursday.

Matthew Milby, 19, was booked into Lee County Jail on Thursday on charges of aggravated discharge of a firearm. Bail was set at $2 million. An arraignment is tentatively slated for Friday.

Milby is accused of entering Dixon High School, 300 Lincoln Statue Dr., about 8 a.m. Wednesday and firing several shots at a security officer. The officer returned fire, authorities said, and shot Milby. He suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was released from a hospital Thursday morning. No one else was hurt.

Milby's mother previously told reporters she didn't keep any guns at home. On Thursday, Illinois state police said the gun Milby carried Wednesday was a 9-mm semi-automatic rifle his mother purchased in 2012.

Police have recovered surveillance footage from inside the school. It has not yet been made public.

At the time of the shooting, seniors and staffers were meeting for a graduation rehearsal.

The school remained closed Thursday, but counselors were on hand.

Officer Mark Dallas, who has worked at Dixon High School for five years, was hailed as a hero for shooting and arresting Milby.

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

"He’s just a wonderful guy inside and out a great police officer so they’re lucky to have him there at the school absolutely," said Jamie Meakins, a witness to the shooting.

Authorities originally said Milby wasn't a student at the school. However, Superintendent Margo Empen told Sauk Valley Media the suspect was not expelled, did not drop out and was eligible to graduate with his class. Empen said she could not provide further details because of school privacy laws.

When police searched the school after the shooting, 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.