Student who brought gun to Montgomery Co. school showed ‘no warning signs’

WASHINGTON — Just a day after a student was caught with a handgun at a Montgomery County high school, the school’s principal, students and parents expressed shock about Thursday’s incident.

Alwin Chen, 18, of Germantown, Maryland, was located in his Clarksburg High School classroom at around 2 p.m., carrying a handgun and a knife.

Clarksburg High School’s Principal Edward Owusu said that while Chen’s motives behind Thursday’s incident are unknown, he does not believe he intended to harm anyone.

Owusu said there were no warning signs that Chen might bring a gun to school. He called Chen a good student who was “coming to school everyday, doing the thing we tell kids to do: Join the athletics teams, join the clubs, get involved with the school. That’s what he was doing.”

Owusu said that the procedures during the incident reflected the extent of the training and conversations the school staff have gone through regarding school security.

“It was the last 20 minutes of the school day … We couldn’t go into that specific lockdown at that time for safety concerns of the kids that were around,” said Owusu.

But Laurine Austin, who was in the building for a parent-teacher appreciation lunch during the time of the incident, said the school’s security measures could benefit from metal detectors.

“Kids are walking in with a backpack and you don’t know what’s in it,” said Austin.

In terms of protection in around the school, she is overall “happy with what the school is doing, but I wish (the county) would do more.”

Austin said the incident brought back images of Wednesday’s school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead, as well as other school shootings.

Iyin Folarin, a student who knows Chen, attested to Chen’s character and the lack of warning signs. He said he’d never imagine that Chen would bring a gun to school.

Folarin said he first presumed Chen brought a gun to school for self protection, but questioned the idea after hearing the news that Chen also carried a knife with him.

“He runs track. He’s, like, an amazing human being. I was really surprised.” said Folarin.

Chen faces multiple charges, including possession of a firearm by a person under 21 and possession of a firearm on school property.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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