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'Where are their parents?' | County leaders push for parental accountability after Prince George's Co. bus attack

The accused gunman in the attack, a 15-year-old boy who goes by the street name "Baby K," was taken into custody Tuesday.

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — Leaders are calling for parental accountability and asking tough questions about how to address youth violence in Prince George's County. This comes after a 15-year-old boy was taken into custody, accused of trying to shoot a middle schooler in the head on board a school bus. 

On May 1, three teen boys pushed their way past a Prince George’s County school bus driver and aide in Oxon Hill and tried to shoot another student, but the gun misfired.

Two of the teenage suspects were taken into custody shortly after the attack, but the accused gunman, later identified as "Baby K," managed to evade arrest for weeks.

The Prince George's County Police Department teamed up with the U.S. Marshals Service Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force (CARFTF) to search for Baby K. 

The boy was taken into custody Tuesday. He is charged as an adult with attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, assault, firearms offenses and additional charges.

On Wednesday, Prince George's County Police Chief Malik Aziz, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy held a joint press conference to discuss next steps. 

"Now that these children have been arrested, they absolutely must be held accountable," Alsobrooks said. 

County leaders used the press conference to address youth violence as a whole, and the need for help from the community to address the ongoing issue. 

According to Aziz, so far this year, there have been 84 arrests for carjackings, and 51 of those arrests were people under the age of 18. There have been a total of 136 shootings this year, 27 homicides and 69 noncontact shootings this year.

"Violence is becoming an increasingly frequent way of life," Aziz said.

Alsobrooks put it another way, saying violence had made her feel like her community was "almost literally under siege."

"I don't feel safe at a gas station getting gas," Alsobrooks said. 

Alsobrooks said the Prince George's County government has spared no expense to address the issue of youth violence. This year's budget fully funds the school system by investing $2.8 billion. The government has also invested $390 million in the police department, with incentives for new police officers. Additionally, $2.5 million are being put toward youth development programs. 

Despite all these investments, Alsobrooks made it clear that youth violence cannot be addressed by the government alone.

"It is still the case that the issue of violence with our children quite literally cannot be resolved just by the police department. It is an issue that literally cannot be resolved by the government alone. We need our community to help us," Alsobrooks said. 

She said, moving forward, tough questions need to be asked. 

"Where are their parents? It's a fair question. Where are the people responsible for these youth," Alsobrooks said. "How is it possible for a child to attempt to shoot another child, and then go on the run for weeks? These are questions the government can't answer alone."

While the 15-year-old gunman has been brought into custody, Aziz said there are still a lot of unanswered questions, and the investigation is far from over. Detectives are still working to find out how the boy was able to elude capture for weeks. Police have also not yet recovered the weapon used in the attack.

Laws surrounding youth offenders in Maryland have kept detectives from questioning the boy directly.

"Under the new laws in the state of Maryland, it has become more difficult for police to question young people about anything, without not just parental consent, parental consent is not even in play. An attorney has to give permission over the parent to ask questions to those who are involved in these type of horrific crimes," Aziz said. He called the law a hindrance, but he understands where the change in the law comes from.

"I do understand the direction people are trying to go. Going back 15, 20, 30, 40 years, and you see injustices that cracked the system. Then you have, in a new era, those protections have given way to a protection of some people who have committed very heinous crimes," Aziz said. 

"The other hindrance that cannot be ignored is that we have 13 and 14-year-olds running around in our communities, armed and dangerous, unaccountable and unafraid," Alsobrooks added. 

State's Attorney Braveboy said Baby K is expected to be in court for a bond hearing Thursday. The others arrested in this case are being held without bond and Braveboy said her office is confident in a similar outcome for Baby K.

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