Alwin Chen, 18, of Montgomery County, Maryland, has been charged with possession of a handgun, possession of a firearm by a person under 21 and possession of a firearm on school property. Chen, a United States born child of Chinese immigrants, had previously brought a handgun to his school at least twice.
Police later found more firearms and ammunition at his home. According to The Washington Post, Montgomery District Judge John C. Moffett said Chen “presents a serious danger to the community.”
Chen had also compiled a “list of grievances against students in the school," according Montgomery Assistant State’s Attorney Frank Lazzaro. Lazzaro called the list “possibly a motive for why he was going to use the gun.”
In Chen's home, police discovered an AR-15 styled rifle, a shotgun, two handguns, ammunition and a tactical vest, authorities said on Tuesday.
Chen has been put in jail without the opportunity to post bond.
A school resource officer had discovered a loaded Glock 9mm in Chen's bag one day after last week's shooting in Florida. Chen gave two different explanations at the time: at one point he claimed that he was going to target practice after school. Later, he said he brought the gun as protection from bullying.
“In this day and age, there’s got to be zero tolerance on the acceptability of bringing a loaded handgun onto school property,” said Montgomery prosecutor John McCarthy.
It remains unclear who the guns belong to, although evidence suggests they are the property of someone living in Chen's household.
“They were found in someone else’s room,” said David Felsen, an attorney for Chen, who later stressed the student's excellent academic performance. “Someone who is, we believe, authorized to have all these things. [...] There is no hint of any mental-health issue at all. [...] [Chen] has never been in any trouble.”
Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery police spokesman, said the school was not aware of any incidents in which Chen brought firearms onto school property before this. Journals of Chen's were also seized by police.
“There is no wording regarding any threat nor any expression of wanting to cause harm to anyone at the school,” police said in a statement.
“It’s a difficult situation,” Moffett said. “Individuals with access to weapons that pose a serious, imminent threat or danger to the community are not tagged with a neon sign or a warning sign. [...] Looking at his parents, I don’t see any neon sign or flag on them that would make me think they have these types of weapons."
“This is a young man who has desires of helping people, in terms of being a police officer or being in the military. [...] He is very polite, well-mannered," said Felsen.
[Photo: Montgomery County Police]