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Police: Maryland high school student arrested for bringing ghost gun parts to class

Fairmont Heights High School was placed on lockdown after reports that a student had a gun in class, the Prince George's County Police Department said.

FAIRMOUNT HEIGHTS, Md. — Police are crediting an alert and brave student for helping thwart a potentially dangerous and deadly situation. 

A  Fairmont Heights High School student was arrested Thursday afternoon for allegedly bringing ghost gun parts to class, according to the Prince George's County Police Department. It is unclear if the parts would have made a complete weapon if assembled.

PGPD officers were sent to the high school in Landover at noon for the report of a student with a gun. Police said a student saw the gun parts and alerted the school resource officer. The school was placed on lockdown, and the officers said they searched the school and found parts of a ghost gun in a classroom. 

"She called me and told me she was on lockdown and then texted and said 'active shooter,'" Aisha Johnson, the mother of a Fairmont Heights student, said. "I said 'active shooter!' I told her to keep texting me and when she gave me the all-clear to come pick her up, I flew over there on pins and needles the whole time. It's just a crazy time with the shooting in Texas and all, I just want to get my baby home."

Thomia Brown is a senior and was outside the building when she saw police racing to the school.  

"There are two police officers in the school and we have security, they do a good job but kids are sneaky they get anything past you," she said. "I feel like nowadays, it's not even safe to send kids to school. I mean it just wasn't a smart decision for him to bring a gun to school."

Police said the student who brought the parts to school was identified and arrested. Charges have not yet been announced, according to PGPD, nor has any identifying information about the student arrested, including age or gender, been released. 

Police said they do not have a motive and will continue to interview the student before filing charges. A school spokesperson said the student will face disciplinary action and there will be enhanced security at the school into next week.

“As our entire nation continues to grieve the loss of life in the Texas mass shooting, the Prince George’s County Police Department wants to ensure the community that the safety of students in our schools is our top priority," PGPD Chief Malik Aziz said. "Bringing a weapon to school or even making a threat of violence will not be tolerated. We will arrest and charge accordingly." 

Schools across the DMV, including Prince George's County Public Schools, have increased police presence on their campuses following a mass shooting at a Uvalde, Texas elementary school Tuesday that claimed the lives of at least 19 children and two teachers. 

"We encourage anyone who sees anything suspicious or learns of any potential threat at a school to notify police," PGPD said in a release Thursday. 

Increasingly, ghost guns -- or unserialized homemade weapons assembled from parts purchased online -- are becoming the weapon of choice among the youngest offenders. They remain untraceable due to their lack of serial numbers.

Maryland's Attorney General Brian Frosh says more than 25,000 privately made firearms have been confiscated by state law enforcement since 2016, when ghost gun data tracking began, and more than 12,000 build kits were shipped to Maryland between 2016 and 2019. Aziz said his department recovered 264 guns in 2021, an increase from 27 in 2019 and just one in 2016. 

“All you need is a Dremel tool and a YouTube video and, as they specifically advertise, in an hour, or even less, you can have a functional handgun,” Frosh said of those buying ghost gun kits online. “We can no longer tolerate the fiction that these components should not be defined as regulated firearms.”

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