Magruder High shooting renews school resource officer debate – NBC4 Washington


The shooting at a Magruder High School in Montgomery County, Maryland comes months after the county’s school system got rid of school resource officers, reigniting the debate over whether those officers should be in the public schools.

The students returned to school on Tuesday, four days after a junior there shot a sophomore in a bathroom after an ongoing argument, police say.

The 15-year-old victim remains in critical condition.

“It was just a little weird, you know. Like, everyone just thought a Magruder student is currently, like, in the hospital right now,” Zaid Dastj at Magruder High School told News4.

School officials said they plan to have a police presence at each high school for the rest of the month in light of the shooting. But county officials were adamant the officers would not make a permanent return.

“We have no plans, at this time, to revert to the old SRO program. I just want to make sure that’s clear,” Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones told News4 via a video call.

Security was tightened at the school on Tuesday, but some parents say they are still worried about their children’s safety. Reporting by Aimee Cho of News4.

SROs, or School Resource Officers, are police officers who patrol inside schools.
Montgomery County Public Schools dumped the program after racial justice protests.

“No one has produced an argument, you know, that an ORS would have made a difference in this particular incident,” County Executive Marc Elrich said Wednesday.

Montgomery County Public Schools replaced SROS with community engagement officers. These are officers who patrol nearby schools, not inside.

“They make us feel threatened, us minority students, because I often feel like they target, you know, students of color,” Brandon Campos at Magruder High School told News4.

But others are calling for ORS to return to county schools. A petition established before the shooting about two months ago has nearly 5,000 signatures.

“It provides, for example, a greater sense of security if there are more resource officers around.
There’s one in the hallways. There is one who checks the courses. It just, like, makes a person feel a little safer,” Dastj said.

Students at Magruder High School in Montgomery County, Maryland, are set to return to school on Tuesday, four days after a student was shot dead on campus. News4’s Juliana Valencia explains how students are showing resilience and community support.

Police cars lined the street on Tuesday when students returned, and officers stood at the entrance to the school. An officer held a sign with the message “You are loved”.

Some families said they still had concerns after the shooting.

“I hope this never happens at any school anywhere,” said Keeko Thompson, whose son is a freshman at Magruder.

The student charged in the shooting is 17-year-old Steven Alston, Jr., who is charged as an adult with attempted second-degree murder.

Police have released a photo of the ghost gun they say Alston used. Alston told authorities he purchased parts for the 9mm ghost pistol online and assembled it with a friend, a prosecutor said in court Monday.

Thompson says that worries him.

“It scares me a bit that anyone can buy guns,” she said. “Let’s hope that before that happens, parents notice.”

Police said there were also other students in the bathroom when the shooting happened. But instead of calling 911, the students simply tweeted about it, police said.

Alston is being held without bond. His lawyer had requested that he be released so that he could attend classes virtually, but a judge denied this request. The judge granted a request to detain Alston in a juvenile facility.

Tuesday was a half day to give students the opportunity to speak with counselors.

The students also had an extended counseling period on Tuesday to “help them process, cope and learn from Friday’s events,” deputy principal Dr. Sofía Vega-Ormeño said on social media.

Friday’s shooting resulted in a lockdown that lasted for hours.

The case is currently being heard in adult court, but a judge may decide to move it to juvenile court.


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