PERRY HALL, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — A 15-year-boy has been charged as an adult with attempted first-degree murder in a shooting at a Baltimore County High School Monday, authorities say.
Baltimore County police say Robert Wayne Gladden, Jr. — who has also been charged with first-degree assault — is being held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center. Gladden allegedly opened fire on the first day of classes at Perry Hall High School Monday morning, getting off two shots and wounding a classmate before being rushed by teachers.
Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson says he does not believe the shooter was targeting the victim, a 17-year-old male. A hospital spokeswoman said the victim remains in critical condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center on Monday evening.
Jordan Coates, a 17-year-old student, who was in the cafeteria at the time of the shooting, said the student used a shotgun. Johnson would not confirm the type of weapon the shooter used.
The shooter walked into the cafeteria at about 10:45 a.m., according to Johnson, and fired one shot before being grabbed by teachers, and then another shot went off. Johnson said the shooter acted alone.
Coates said he watched teachers, including guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer, pin the student against a vending machine.
“My back was to the door. I heard a pop and thought it was a bag because people do that, but then I heard another one,” Coates said. “And I turned around and a teacher had a kid pinned up against the vending machine, and I saw the barrel, and another shot goes off and people just start running.”
Coates credited Wasmer with helping to stop the shooting, and numerous students went on Twitter to thank him.
“He grabbed the gun from the kid and got him” until other teachers came over, Coates said.
“We have some heroic and brave faculty members,” Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance said. “They responded very quickly to minimize damage.”
Kelsey Long, a junior at Perry Hall who was in the cafeteria, said she also thought the first gunshot was someone popping a bag.
“But then we heard it again and again and everyone started screaming and ran out to the front of the school,” Long told the AP in a Twitter message.
Detectives were interviewing the suspect Monday afternoon, Baltimore County police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said. Officers spent several hours searching the school and found no other weapons or suspicious materials, she said.
Although no one other than the 17-year-old was shot, several people suffered cuts and bruises in the ensuing chaos, Armacost said.
The school was evacuated, and students were escorted to a nearby shopping center and middle school.
Perry Hall is a middle-class community along the Interstate 95 corridor, northeast of Baltimore city. The school is the largest in the county, with 2,200 students.
County Councilman David Marks, who lives next door to the school, said he had received dozens of phone calls and text messages from worried parents and residents.
“This is a very comfortable, very safe community, and it’s an excellent high school,” said Marks, who graduated from Perry Hall. “I think this is an aberration, but clearly one that is horrifying, particularly on the first day of school.”
Police planned to provide additional security when the school reopens, and stress counselors were called in to work with students, faculty and staff.
Classes resumed Tuesday morning.
Television coverage showed scores of police cars surrounding the school and parked on neighborhood streets. A group of officers with weapons drawn staked out a corner of the building, one of them lying prone on the ground and appearing to cover a particular area of the campus. Hundreds of students streamed away from the school.
Cathy Le, 15, said students were panicking as they tried to find out what was happening. They texted and called each other frantically as they were locked in their classrooms for more than an hour, she said.
At the scene, buses, emergency vehicles and parents in cars filled the roadway between the high school and the shopping center. There were obvious signs of relief displayed as parents found their children.
Kristin Kraus, whose son James attends the school, described hearing about the shooting as “absolute terror.” However, Kraus said, “within a couple of minutes he texted my husband that he was OK.”
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