Md. teen who brought gun to school will remain in jail without bond

Attorneys claimed a judge received "fundamentally incorrect information" in Alwin Chen's first bond hearing. But the judge ruled that other evidence indicates he poses a threat to the public.

WASHINGTON — A Germantown, Maryland, teen who brought a loaded handgun to Clarksburg High School earlier this month will remain in jail without bond following an emergency hearing Tuesday.

Attorneys for Alwin Chen, 18, moved for the emergency hearing last week, claiming that Montgomery County District Judge John C. Moffett “was given fundamentally incorrect information” during his first bond hearing, according to court documents.

This included claims of a “list of grievances,” as well as accusations that Chen had both a grenade and electrical firing device. Both were actually replicas.

But after learning of troubling entries in Chen’s journal — and of Chen’s ability to build guns — Moffett told the court that the honor student presents a danger to society even if he’s released to home detention.

“This is about a young man bringing a loaded handgun into a public high school,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy at a news conference after Tuesday’s hearing. “And that was, I think, the single-largest factor in what the judge just talked about in court.”

According to documents, Chen “brought a loaded, hand-made handgun to school on many occasions — likely every day — from December 2017 throughout February 2018” and that a witness told them that Chen “wore body armor to school on multiple occasions.”

And even though investigators found a replica grenade and firing device in a search of his home, they also found body armor, three handguns, two rifles, a shotgun, a tear gas revolver, a flare gun, a Taser and “various ammunition and magazines throughout the home,” prosecutors said.

Chen has been in custody since Feb. 15, one day after the Feb. 14 mass school shooting that left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida.

Clad in a green jumpsuit, Chen had no apparent reaction when he heard the ruling Tuesday. His parents held their heads down and kept their eyes closed throughout the proceedings.

“We are very appreciative … that the court gave us an opportunity to correct the record that there was no ‘grievances’ — there was no ‘list of grievances’ — and that was twice stated in the original bond hearing,” said Jill Michaels, one of Chen’s defense attorneys.

“This is a good kid who’s on the cusp of graduating,” said Michaels, who added that Chen has been awarded scholarships.

In documents, state’s attorneys claimed that at the time of the original hearing, prosecutors “had not had the opportunity to inspect any of the evidence or speak to the primary investigators,” and said that the phrase “list of grievances” was “to disabuse the court of any notion that the document contained a list of student names.”

The judge, McCarthy said, “indicated that there was no misrepresentation made by any of the parties at the original bond review.”

Chen’s trial is set for March 29.

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