MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — *Editor's Note: WUSA9's policy is not to name juveniles charged with crimes unless they are charged as an adult, as is the case here.
A sophomore was found shot inside his school bathroom Friday, according to Montgomery County Police Department, and a fellow student was charged in the shooting.
Col. Magruder High School in Derwood was on lockdown for several hours Friday afternoon as school leaders and police investigated the situation.
The 10th grader was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. As of Saturday morning, the student was out of surgery and expected to survive the shooting, according to Montgomery County Officer Carlos Cortes.
Steven Alston Jr., 17, was taken into police custody and charged as an adult with attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony/violent crime, possession of a dangerous weapon on school property and possession of a firearm by a minor.
Marcus Jones, MCPD's chief, said that at 12:53 p.m., school security "became aware of a situation in one of the school's bathroom." A male student was discovered shot and at around 12:57 p.m. the school called 911.
Jones said the school went into a full lockdown at 1:05 p.m. and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office and MCPD secured the building.
Alston was discovered around 3 p.m. alone in a classroom by police. A privately manufactured firearm, also known as a ghost gun, was found inside the school, police said.
Detectives said the shooting only involved Alston and the victim. Police have no evidence to determine that Alston had plans to shoot anyone else in the school.
Magruder Principal Leroy Evans sent a letter to the school community Friday that dismissal for students started around 5 p.m.—hours after a normal school dismissal would take place—with bus riders departing first.
"Our thoughts are with the student, and we wish him a speedy recovery," Evans wrote. "The police have also assessed that the school is now safe, and we are preparing to dismiss students."
In his letter to the community Friday evening, Evans said earlier in the day a letter from the school went out saying there was no immediate threat to staff and students.
"We regret using that language as the police continued to actively conduct an investigation inside the school," Evans wrote. "Our following message clarified that the police continued to be involved in resolving the situation and confirming the school's safety."
Jones said police are investigating how a gun got into the school.
The chief said when the school was in lockdown—with teachers and students inside locked rooms—law enforcement did not see any immediate violent threat to the community as they searched for the shooter since "it wasn't an active shooter."
During the school's lockdown, dozens of parents were anxiously waiting outside to learn information about what was going on inside school walls, and if their children were okay.
“It almost makes you want to cry not knowing what’s going on,” Tom Wells said outside of the high school Friday afternoon.
“I just really feel so sad it’s come to this and you keep hearing about school shootings and you never really think it’s going to happen to you but when it hits so close to home it’s just that much more real,” Neena Bhaskar said as she waited down the street for her 11th-grade son to be dismissed.
Interim Superintendent Monifa McKnight spoke at the Friday evening news conference and thanked police for their response. McKnight acknowledged that students, staff, and families are likely experiencing a "range of feelings," saying, "we are also concerned for the students and staff at Magruder High School."
A crisis management team will be available this weekend at Magruder. Staff members can utilize the employee assistance program as well, McKnight said.
To help students and staff dealing with trauma, resources from the county will be made available at all schools next week and beyond.
McKnight praised staff and students, saying, "Your bravery, your courage, and your cooperation are to be commended."
The interim superintendent sent well wishes to the injured student and urged students to interact with one another in a "nonviolent" manner.
"The safety and security of students and staff is our number one priority here in Montgomery County Public Schools and it is hard for students to learn if they don't feel safe," McKnight said. "Overall MCPS schools are safe and incidents like today's shooting are extremely rare."
The interim superintendent said school officials will look closely at the incident that happened at Magruder to find out what could have been done differently.
McKnight called guns and gun violence "a scourge in our society" and said the problem is one schools cannot solve alone.
"It's a problem that we all must own and react to swiftly and with much thought behind it," she said. "We must find a way to not only keep guns out of our schools but we keep them out of the hands of our young people and in our communities."
Jones did not say what grade level the victim and suspect were in. MCPD said in a statement it will release an "official release" when more information is available.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich issued a statement wishing the student victim a speedy recovery. He said he's concerned about students, faculty and staff who were traumatized by the incident and encouraged them to take advantage of counseling offered by MCPS.
Elrich praised the police and school community for their response, especially Magruder's school nurse, Megan Wilson, "for her lifesaving actions that directly helped save the injured student."
"This was a very delicate situation, but it was dealt with by a group of professionals who did what they have been trained to do. Lives were saved because of their efforts, and for this I am grateful," Elrich wrote.
The county executive said he's confident MCPD will determine a cause behind the shooting.
He wrote, "The safety of our students, faculty, and staff in our schools is a very high priority, and I am committed to working with Interim Superintendent Monifa McKnight, the Board of Education, Montgomery County Police Department, and the County Council to reduce the chances of this ever happening again in Montgomery County."
The Montgomery County Council issued a joint statement calling the shooting "senseless," and saying they were "heartbroken" for the school community.
The statement says, “While we know that Montgomery County Public Schools will provide counseling and other support services to students and staff during the coming days, we also encourage young people, their parents and MCPS staff to also take advantage of the services offered by Montgomery County government and our community partners."
Friday evening, the Magruder High School Twitter account posted that it was thankful for the supportive messages.
"We are overwhelmed by the support we are receiving from our community and beyond," the tweet says. "We want to thank our leadership, security, staff and students for their efforts and cooperation today."
*WUSA9's editorial policy is not to name juveniles unless they are charged as an adult. In this case