The Montgomery County state’s attorney shared strong words about ghost guns and guns in schools Monday, on the same day that the teenager charged in a shooting at Magruder High School attended his detention hearing.
Steve Alston Jr., 17, was charged as an adult with attempted second-degree murder, felony assault and weapons offenses. He is accused of shooting and critically wounding a 15-year-old student, who was later found inside a Magruder High School bathroom, on Jan. 21. The incident led to a lockdown that went on for hours.
Alston told authorities he bought parts for the 9 mm ghost gun online and assembled it with a friend, a prosecutor said in court Monday. The judge ordered the suspect held without bond and granted a request that he be held at a juvenile facility.
We're making it easier for you to find stories that matter with our new newsletter — The 4Front. Sign up here and get news that is important for you to your inbox.
“Guns have no place in our schools,” State's Attorney John McCarthy said outside a courthouse. “Guns will not be tolerated. There will be profound consequences to anyone who brings a gun into our schools.”
Police said the pistol used was a ghost gun, a weapon with no traceable serial number generally sold in parts and then assembled.
McCarthy said this academic year, five ghost guns have been recovered from county schools.
“I’m concerned because this is not the first ghost gun that’s been seized from a minor or a child in Montgomery County,” he said.
Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office Juvenile Court Division Chief Carlotta Woodward said Alston brought the gun to school because he knew there would be a conflict that day and went to a boys bathroom on Friday afternoon with the loaded gun in his waistband.
Alston pointed it at the victim’s head and when the victim pushed the gun away, he was shot in the pelvis area, Woodward said.
Law enforcement sources said police are looking into the possibility that the motive for the shooting was an ongoing dispute between the students.
After the shooting, Alston went to a classroom with other students and was found with the magazine with nine bullets in his sock, Woodward said.
Later in the day, Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones said, investigators learned learned that other students who had been in the bathroom tweeted about the shooting, identifying the suspect and the victim, instead of calling 911 or alerting staff that a classmate had been shot. The wounded student wasn’t found until a security sweep during the change in classes, he said.
The victim remains in critical condition, according to McCarthy.
“We still continue to pray for this young man,” he said. “This young man is fighting for his life. His battle is not over.”
Alston is being held without bond at a juvenile facility. The case is being heard in an adult court now, but there is a chance a judge could decide to handle it in juvenile court.
Citing Alston’s lack of criminal history, attorney Lucy Larkins asked the judge to allow the teen to be released to home detention so he could take classes virtually.
“I know he is committed to continuing his studies,” Larkins said. The judge denied the request.