DERWOOD, Md. — It's been nearly a week since a 15-year-old was shot at Col. Zadok Magruder High School in Derwood and his family is just beginning to process the traumatic experience. DeAndre Thomas is still recovering from serious injuries in the hospital.
In an exclusive interview with WUSA9, Thomas' parents -- Karen and Dumba Thomas -- say their son still can't talk to them as he remains in critical condition with a wound to his pelvis.
"I’ve never been more afraid in my life," Karen Thomas said of sitting at her son's hospital bedside. "At the same time, you’re horrified, but you also want to remain strong for your child. Walking into that room, I was completely devastated."
But the Thomas family remains hopeful that their son has a bright future ahead.
Karen Thomas said her son enjoys school and does well in U.S. Government and English. The sophomore is also athletic and plays point guard at a local basketball club.
Police say 17-year-old fellow student Steven Alston Jr. used an untraceable and assembled “ghost gun” to shoot DeAndre in a school bathroom.
The Thomas family said they had never heard of ghost guns before one was used against their son. Now, they are supporters of a Maryland bill that would ban the sale, transfer and possession of ghost guns.
"This is not a club I thought I’d be part of -- a parent who’s had a child fall victim to gun violence," Karen Thomas said. "I have two other children who, of course, I want to be able to feel safe about them going to school."
But Karen Thomas said she also wants to see security changes in the school.
"In the event that DeAndre wasn’t the only target, I do think it would have helped to have SROs (School Resource Officers) in the school," Karen Thomas said.
The Thomas family attorney, Rob Rowe, was in agreement.
"Was it the [Montgomery County Council's] thought that it was in the best interest of our children to lock our kids into the school with the lone gunman and no one else who was armed or even trained to deal with this problem?" Rowe asked. "It just doesn’t make sense, and it’s one of the horrific things that the Thomas family is dealing with here."
Rowe argued SRO's had a "track record" for keeping children safe and "de-escalating violent situations."
"They were disarming children who brought guns to schools," Rowe said." In light of that information who thought it would be a good idea just to remove these SROs from our school premises and not provide any substitute for safety?"
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While the Thomas family is thankful for an outpouring of community support, police reports that some of DeAndre's classmates witnessed the shooting, and tweeted about it rather than calling 911, shocks them.
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"It’s just like pouring salt in the wound," Karen Thomas said. "It’s already devastating enough that he was shot – period – at school. But to hear people tweeting rather than calling for 911? Of course that’s super hurtful."
DeAndre Thomas turns 16 on Feb. 3. Though he may still be in the hospital, his family plans on celebrating him however he chooses once he returns home.
"I see DeAndre still playing basketball," Karen Thomas said of her son's future. "I see him jumping off of a diving board into the pool. I see him chasing his sisters around. Still being Dre."
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