A 17-year-old is charged with second-degree attempted murder after allegedly using a ghost gun to shoot another student at Magruder High School in Maryland on Friday, police said.
The alleged shooter, Steven Alston Jr., attacked a 15-year-old student who was later found in a bathroom suffering from traumatic injuries. The victim was found by a security guard, Montgomery County police said.
The wounded student, a 10th grader, was taken to a hospital in serious condition, said Sheira Goff, a Montgomery County police spokesperson. The victim underwent surgery and was listed in critical condition on Saturday afternoon, officials tell News4.
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Alston Jr. is being charged as an adult. In addition to the attempted murder count, he's charged with first-degree assault, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, possession of a dangerous weapon on school property and procession of a firearm by a minor, police said. He's being held without bond.
Police believe the firearm used is a ghost gun. Ghost guns don’t have serial numbers, making them untraceable, and their parts can be bought online and assembled at home.
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The incident spurred an hours-long lockdown at Magruder High that began minutes after the victim was found about 1 p.m. Friday, according to police.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich praised a school nurse, Megan Wilson, for rendering first aid.
"I am especially grateful to Magruder's School Health Nurse Megan Wilson for her lifesaving actions that directly helped save the injured student," Elrich said in a statement.
With help from tips, police located Alston Jr. in a classroom and arrested him about 3 p.m.
A student who wanted to remain anonymous described the moment a "SWAT team" came into his classroom and told everyone to "put their hands up."
"They went to the back of the classroom where the kid was," he recalled. "They kind of pushed him to the ground. They didn’t use too much force, but obviously a little bit, so they cuffed him and they brought him outside."
A gun was also found in the school, near where the suspect was apprehended, police said. Police say Alston Jr. is in the 11th grade.
The lockdown continued until after 5 p.m. as terrified parents and grandparents sat in cars, waiting to reunite with their kids.
There's no evidence Alston Jr. was targeting anyone else at school, police said. Information on how he came to possess the gun wasn't immediately available.
The shocking shooting comes as lawmakers move to ban ghost guns in Maryland. Attorney General Brian Frosh has detailed legislation that would first ban the sale, receipt and transfer of unfinished parts used to make ghost guns before an outright ban on ghost guns would be put in place in January 2023.
Officials are still investigating what may have led up to the shooting.
A parent who rushed to the school to try to pick up her son was turned away due to the lockdown, she told News4's Darcy Spencer.
"I just know I just heard it in the news, that there are helicopters there, and just, drove all the way from Frederick," the parent said. "Just wanted to be close to him, as close as I can be."
"This is just something we don't need to deal with. School's supposed to be a safe place for children," she said.
It was a sentiment expressed by many of the parents and grandparents outside the school Friday afternoon.
Both Montgomery County Fire & Rescue and Montgomery County Police were called to the school, which is located at 5939 Muncaster Mill Road in Derwood.
"Our thoughts are with the student, and we wish him a speedy recovery," MCPS officials said.
Officials said they regretted initially sending an alert about the lockdown, saying there was no immediate threat to safety.
"We regret using that language as the police continued to actively conduct an investigation inside the school," they said.
Parents have also complained about the lack of information they were getting from authorities. During a Zoom conference, Montgomery County police Chief Marcus Jones told parents, teachers and students that it was a strategic decision not to release too much information while the scene was active.
"The suspect may have had a cellphone and if we are tweeting out information that might be beneficial to that suspect that could be dangerous in its own right," he said. "We came up with a way to strategize to actually get the student and those individuals who were in the class... out of that room safely."
Stay with NBC Washington for more on this developing story.