By Ava-joye Burnett

GREAT MILLS, Md. (WJZ/AP) — Neighbors in a nearby community prayed for their friends and colleagues during a small vigil following a shooting at southern Maryland school.

Within minutes of the school shooting at Great Mills High School, pastors started organizing a vigil at a nearby church.

RELATED: Md. School Shooting: Shooter Dead At Great Mills High School, 2 Others Injured

Volunteers from a local college were also present as the tragedy hit close to home.

“I was watching the news this morning and it was just, I was just in shock honestly,” said Mia Griffiths of St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

A great fear became a reality Tuesday with a shooting inside a high school with a population of 1,600 students.

RELATED: School Resource Officer Credited With Stopping Md. School Shooting

“I was in the middle of the hallway, and it sounded like you would pop a bag, so no one took it seriously,” one student said.

Hours later, many people chose to go to gatherings like the one at The Church of the Ascension in Lexington Park. They said they didn’t want to be alone.

Holding candles and singing hymns, religious leaders from different denominations prayed together.

On a “prayer wall” at the church, people came by and wrote in chalk anonymous prayers for the families and students affected by the shooting. One message said, “Lord, help the parents of the shooter to find hope and peace in you.” Another said, “Please choose love.”

Tracey Harms’s son is a sophomore at Great Mills.

“Quite scary because he told me his classroom that he was going to was right near where everything happened. So if he would have been a couple minutes earlier, he would have been right in the same area,” she said.

RELATED: Parents Frantically Race To Md. High School Following Shooting

On the street where the shooter lived, WJZ spoke with a neighbor who said he played basketball with the suspect, identified as Austin Wyatt Rollins.

With two innocent victims hurt and the 17-year-old suspect dead, this is a tragedy he never saw coming.

“Very surprised. I would have never guessed that was him. He was the last person that came to mind,” the neighbor said.

In a letter Tuesday night, the principal of Great Mills wrote school will resume April 2.

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(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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