Matthew Milby Jr. sentenced to 30 years in prison for 2018 Dixon High School shooting

Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 12:29 PM CDT
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DIXON, Ill. (KWQC) - The man police say opened fire at Dixon High School in 2018 was sentenced Tuesday.

Matthew A. Milby Jr., 23, was sentenced to 30 years in prison on two charges, the judge ordered the sentences to run concurrently, or at the same time. He has to serve 85% of the sentence but received credit for time served.

Lee County Court records show Milby pleaded guilty on July 14, to aggravated discharge of a firearm towards a peace officer, a Class X felony, and aggravated discharge of a firearm in a school building, a Class X felony.

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dismissed several other charges, including attempted murder.

On May 16, 2018, officers responded to the high school for reports of an active shooter. Then-Resource Officer Mark Dallas was assigned to the school when he confronted Milby, who police say fired shots near the west gym.

Milby then left the school and ran; Dallas chased after him. The two exchanged gunfire and Milby was shot and suffered non-life threatening injuries, according to police. During the confrontation, Milby also shot at Andrew McKay, a teacher for the district. No one else was shot.

“I am a victim of Matthew Milby, but no more so than you. I am no more a victim of Matthew Milby than the entire nation is a victim of Matthew Milby,” Dallas said.

Dallas compared Milby to past school shooters. He called them a “disease that infects our nation like cancer.”

“They kill innocent school children cause our country still cannot muster the collective this will to do anything about it. Children will continue to be slaughtered until we care enough to save them. Children will continue to be murdered until we place well-trained school resource officers in every school. Until then, we will remain victims of Milby.”

Dallas is now retired. He reflected on confronting Milby on May 16, 2018.

“There he was. Milby was holding a fully loaded Uzi and reaching with his hand to open the door of the gymnasium with the other,” said Dallas.

At the time of the confrontation, 182 Dixon high school students were inside the gym rehearsing for their upcoming graduation ceremony.

“My son was among them. But on that morning, they were 182 of my sons and daughters. Their parents had entrusted all of them to my watch,” he said.

Although no one else was shot, witnesses said during the hearing that their memories of the day will live with them forever.

“Not a day goes by where I don’t think about the students at our high school and their safety,” said now Dixon High School principal Jared Shaner, “These feelings were intensified as I thought of and received a text message from my daughter, who was locked in a classroom. Scared to death. Less than 200 feet away,” said Shaner. “‘What ifs’ continually played in my head. What if Coach McKay hadn’t gone to get ice that morning? What if Officer Dallas wasn’t sitting in my office at that time? What could have been different if things would have been 10 seconds earlier or 10 seconds later? These feelings, thoughts, and emotions certainly consumed me on that day and the days that followed.”

The court also heard victim impact statements from two members of the Dixon High School Class of 2018.

“Since May 16th I have had repeated nightmares of gunman, triggers, attended therapy, and have broken down,” said Sarah Leisner, a senior at the time of the shooting.

Milby’s attorney said Milby grew up in a violent home with domestic violence. Milby Jr.’s father is serving six years in prison for trying to hire a hitman to kill his ex-wife and a man in July 2019.

During the sentencing, Milby’s half-sister testified that Milby became more reclusive after his siblings moved out of the house where they were living with Milby’s mother. She said Julie Milby, whom they share as a mother, was mentally and physically abusive toward her children, and the abuse intensified for Matthew Milby after his siblings moved out.

Milby’s aunt testified during that sentencing that she would hide Milby Jr. in her closet when his mother came to her house looking for him. She stated she was concerned for his safety under his mother’s care.

“You heard from his family that he was a good kid. A good egg. That got broken again and again and again, and he cracked,” said his attorney.

Milby Jr. spoke in court and apologized.

“My actions on May 16, 2018, were wrong. I am here to take responsibility for what I did and I understand my actions have impacted officer Dallas, Andrew McKay, my classmates, their parents, and the community. I cannot undo what I did but I can take responsibility and apologize. To those who were hurt by my actions, I am sorry,” said Milby.

After the sentencing, Lee County State’s Attorney Charles Boonstra spoke to the media, saying his home life is no excuse for his actions.

“You make choices. He didn’t have to make the choice to go into the school and start shooting at people, at innocent lives,” said Boonstra.

Milby was found unfit to stand trial several times. In May 2021, Judge John Redington found him not guilty of two counts of attempted murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm against a peace officer, and aggravated discharge of a. Firearm at a school.

The judge also acquitted him of two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm.

Redington ordered Milby to be in the custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services for up to two years to attain fitness. If Milby did not attain fitness within that time frame, prosecutors had the option to have him civilly committed for up to 80 years, the maximum sentence on the highest charge.

Court records show Redington found Milby fit to stand trial in October. Milby was sent to the Stateville Correctional Center outside of Chicago. He will then be moved to wherever the Department of Corrections decides where he will serve his sentence.