Reporting Mike Hellgren
PERRY HALL, Md. (WJZ) — Police are revealing new information about the 15-year-old accused of smuggling a shotgun into Perry Hall High School and shooting a classmate.
Mike Hellgren reports Robert Gladden has been charged as adult with attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault.
He is being held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center.
Gladden’s attorney says he only brought the gun in to intimidate bullies and that he accidentally pulled the trigger when teachers ran toward him.
Police disagree with that account.
“Robert Gladden’s conversation with investigators did not indicate bullying was an issue in this case,” said Chief James Johnson, Baltimore County Police.
Police say Daniel Borowy, 17, was shot. The injured student was flown to Shock Trauma. Borowy is still in critical condition.
His family issued the following statement: “Our son, Daniel, was critically injured on his first day at school. We would like to personally thank school personnel who quickly responded, getting Daniel to safety. We would also like to thank Baltimore County EMS, Baltimore County Police and the Maryland State Police who quickly transported Daniel to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore where he remains in critical condition. . . .We would like to ask the public, our family and friends to respect our privacy at this time and keep Daniel in your thoughts and prayers.”
Police say Gladden brought a broken down shotgun into school and came on the school bus. He brought 21 rounds of ammunition and a bottle of vodka to school. Police do not believe he was intoxicated at the time of the shooting. Police say no other weapons were brought to school.
Link: Charging Documents
Police say Gladden went to his first two classes and then the cafeteria. They say he placed his bag with the gun in a nearby bathroom.
Police say food or paper was thrown at the table near where Gladden was sitting during lunch. Police say Gladden then went to get the shotgun and put it in his clothing. Police say they do not believe anyone in the school saw the gun before the incident.
Police say Gladden then pulled out the shotgun. That’s when guidance counselor, Jesse Wasmer, rushed the suspect. One shot was fired, striking Borowy in the back.
Other educators rushed the suspect, and a second shot was fired during that struggle. No one was struck by the second shot. After this, Gladden was held and taken into custody.
Police believe the shooter acted alone and did not target his victim.
Police say Gladden got the shotgun from his father’s home in Hawthorne. His father has not been charged at this time. Police also went to his mother’s house, where Andrew Piper, Gladden’s stepfather, was arrested for illegal possession of firearms and marijuana.
“We’re deeply saddened by yesterday’s events,” said Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Executive. “Baltimore County is strong and our county schools are safe. I am proud of how people responded under quiet confidence…people displayed extraordinary courage and leadership under so much pressure.”
A posting on the suspected shooter’s personal Facebook page said, “First day of school, last day of my life. [expletive] the world.”
Police say they are checking social media to see what, if anything, anyone knew about the suspect’s plans.
The suspect is currently undergoing a mental health evaluation. Police are looking into any previous run-ins the suspect had with police or other authorities. They are also looking into allegations the suspect was a victim of bullying.
“We are aware there are many reports that the suspect was a victim of bullying. We cannot confirm those reports…We continue to talk with him and others but at this point we have not received information that bullying played a role in this crime,” said Johnson.
Authorities say there was no indication to believe this would occur at Perry Hall High School on the first day of class.
Students recounted to WJZ what they saw during the shooting.
“First, we heard a gunshot and everyone thought it was a chip bag popping or a water bottle. Then there was a second one and all of a sudden, I see everyone from behind me get up and start running away,” said a student.
For hours, students trickled out of the classrooms and had emotional reunions with their families.
School is open on Tuesday and there is enhanced security. Many students attended a morning vigil before school started Tuesday. Counseling is also being offered to students.
“I want to offer reassurance to everyone that the police department has the situation well under control,” said Kamenetz. “It was a random act of shooting….It’s a difficult world we live in today. I kind of hoped Baltimore County would be immune, from this type of activity, but apparently we are not.”
Kamenetz said it was important for school to be open Tuesday.
“School goes on and life goes on,” said Kamenetz. “An usual event does not alter what the daily events should be.”
Baltimore County Executive, Police Chief, Schools Chief Hold News Conference:
One student told WJZ it was his first day of public school and he saw the shooting. He says there was a lot of blood and saw the student shot in the back. There are estimates there were about 200 students in the cafeteria at the time of the shooting.
Others told WJZ they heard a scuffle before the shooting. After the shooting, the school was put on lockdown for several hours.
“It sounded like a fight against the locker with all the banging. I heard screaming and the teachers told everybody to stay calm… it was crazy,” said Justin Spencer, tenth-grader. “All the teachers started running to the classrooms and locking the doors, and then on the speaker we heard the teachers saying ‘Lockdown. Lockdown. This is not a drill. We need everyone to stay in the classrooms.’”
Link: Student Reaction
“I heard two large bangs and I saw people running and it was chaos and everybody ran outside, and the principal told us to stay in the grass area and away from the cafeteria,” said a student witness.
Governor Martin O’Malley released the following statement:
“Today, on this first day of school for many students in our State, we’ve suffered a senseless act of violence. I’d like to thank the teachers and administrators for their courageous and life-saving actions. At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with the injured student and his family.
“I’ve spoken with County Executive Kamenetz, and we will continue to support all of our local partners in Baltimore County. It takes all of us working together to make our schools safer for our children.”
Parents told WJZ they were getting calls and texts from their children when they were in lockdown. Students were dismissed classroom by classroom.
“This is the first time it’s happened at Perry Hall. We don’t have this happen out here. It happened during lunch, but not my child’s lunch. I’m just glad he’s OK,” said a parent.
Link: Parents React
“It’s a mother’s worst nightmare,” said one mother. “It’s horrifying. I got here and talked to parents. Every story is not the right story. You get different information. He texted me back and said ‘Mom, I’m OK. Don’t worry.’ I said ‘OK.’ I just want to get him out of the building and home with me, give him a big hug,” said Carol Hogenburgen, parent.
View Slideshow: 1 Student Shot At Perry Hall High School
“For something like this to happen it’s just tragic for everyone. It was wonderful to be able to see him walking up the street and give him a hug. I’m just thankful he’s OK,” said mother Doris of her son Tyler.
Students left the school in an orderly manner. They were originally being evacuated to Perry Hall Shopping Center across the street from the school at the corner of Ebenezer Road and Belair Road. But later, students were evacuated to the fields behind Perry Hall Middle School. Bus riding students were dismissed from that location.
The Baltimore County Police Department is providing updates about the shooting at Perry Hall High School. You can follow them on Twitter at BACOemergency.
Monday was the first day of school in Perry Hall. About 2,300 students attend the school. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited the school last week.
“My thoughts are with the Perry Hall High School community — students, families and faculty — in this difficult time. Gun violence has no place anywhere, least of all in our nation’s schools. I’d like to thank the local educators and law enforcement personnel who took action to help prevent additional students from getting hurt. I recently had the chance to visit with Principal George Roberts and the teachers at Perry Hall. I know that both he and Superintendent Dance are committed to keeping students safe and learning, and we stand ready to support them in that work,” Duncan said in a statement.
Monday was Baltimore County Schools’ Superintendent Dallas Dance’s first day in his new job. He assured parents his number one priority was student safety.
“First of all our thoughts and our prayers are with the student who was injured and his family. We pray for a speedy recovery. Second thing, we want to reassure our parents that student safety is our paramount priority. We will do everything in our rights and our way to make sure all of our students are safe. And last but not least I do want to make sure that the word gets out that we have some heroic and brave faculty members at Perry Hall High School. As the chief indicated, some faculty members actually responded quickly to get this individual to minimize damage. We really want to congratulate them and to let the public know the crisis plan in place at Perry Hall High School was actually in fact followed today,” said Dance.
Dance later issued a statement: “What happened earlier today is a shock and a tragedy. Speaking on behalf of the entire BCPS community, our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and his family. This school year, we expect to educate more than 106,000 students in our schools. The safety of students and staff is our paramount concern and priority. Schools must be safe to be conducive for teaching and learning. Our schools have emergency plans in place that are updated annually. Perry Hall High School followed its plan and cooperated with police. As challenging as today was, I am extremely proud of Principal George Roberts and the school community. Students responded maturely, and the faculty, through its quick intervention, saved lives and captured the assailant. We will work together to make this the best school year for Team BCPS.”
Stay with WJZ.COM for the latest on this developing story.