Teen pleads guilty to shooting in Magruder High School bathroom | Media Pyro

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A Montgomery County teenager pleaded guilty Monday to attempted first-degree murder after he shot a fellow student inside the boys’ bathroom at Magruder High School and put the school on lockdown.

Steven Alston The junior, now 18, “pulled a handgun from his waistband and pointed it at the victim’s head,” prosecutor Donna Fenton told the court. “The victim attempted to push the handgun away, at which point the suspect stepped back and intentionally fired.”

DeAndre Thomas, then 15, was struck in the hip. He spent more than 50 days in the hospital and underwent at least eight operations. Prosecutors indicated he will appear at Alston’s sentencing, which is scheduled for Dec. 22.

As part of Alston’s plea agreement, prosecutors said they would “strongly recommend” placement in the youthful offender program at Patuxent Institution. According to earlier testimony in the case, the program typically takes six to seven years to complete and has its own parole program.

Early coverage: inches to prey recovery

Alston’s attorney, David Felsen, said Alston felt threatened by Thomas and others and brought the gun to school to protect himself.

“There is substantial evidence that my client was a victim of prior assault,” Felsen said Monday in Montgomery Circuit Court, where the matter will be further addressed at sentencing. “That supports his statement that he was concerned about the jump.”

Montgomery County residents were shocked by the January 21 afternoon shooting at Magruder, a school with 1,600 students. It also shed light on the availability of ghost guns, fully functional weapons that can be assembled without a permit with parts ordered online.

During earlier court proceedings, prosecutors played audio of an interview between investigators and the shooting victim, Thomas. He told them that months before the shooting, he and Alston started “talking trash to each other.” “Hit each other,” Thomas said.

On Jan. 21, Thomas added, the two agreed to meet in the bathroom for what Thomas thought would be another fist fight. That’s when Alston went inside, pulled out a gun and opened fire, authorities said.

Prosecutors said a school security officer noticed the students scattered in the bathroom and making noise in the hallway. He went into the bathroom and saw Thomas.

Earlier coverage: Alston will remain in adult court

In the minutes that followed, Alston – with his gun concealed – managed to walk undetected to another part of the school. When the lockdown was announced, a teacher dragged him into a classroom.

He stayed there for two hours while the police tried to identify the shooter. An assistant principal who works with them recorded a social media post that read: “Steven shot ‘Dre”. Investigators identified Steven as Steven Alston. A SWAT team then burst into the classroom he entered.

Their actions were captured on video, which was played in court.

“Raise your hand! Hands up! ” yelled the tactical officers, quickly knocking him to the ground before moving towards Alston.

Police charged Alston, who was 17 at the time.

In an earlier interview, Thomas’ mother, Karen, spoke about the case. “I was totally scared,” she said. “I thought I was going to lose my baby.”

Felsen had tried at an earlier hearing to have his case transferred to the juvenile court system, arguing that rehabilitation would be a better fit for his client. Even if prosecutors and the judge recommend his client go to the Patuxent institution, there’s no guarantee he’ll be accepted, the attorney noted, which is possible. resulting in him being sent to a public adult prison.

But Judge David Boynton ruled that he should remain in the adult system. “Mr. Alston poses a danger to the community. said the judge.

Boynton said in court Monday that in pleading guilty to first-degree attempted murder, Alston was admitting he took “steps in furtherance” of the premeditated murder.

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