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Montgomery County teacher’s aide arrested after 2 autistic teens walk away from school

Alfredo Lopez (Montgomery County Police Department)

A Montgomery County Public Schools teacher’s aide has been arrested after two autistic teen boys walked away from a Rockville high school.

Alfredo Lopez, 59, of Gaithersburg, was arrested Wednesday at his home on two counts of neglect of a minor.

Montgomery County police said the two students with autism and intellectual and development disabilities (IDD) separately walked away from Rock Terrace High School on Monday, and that Lopez – who was responsible for monitoring the students – failed to quickly report that they were missing.

Both students were found safe and unharmed later that day.

According to police, in the first case, a 16-year-old boy with autism and an IDD walked away from the school located at 390 Martins Lane around 9:52 a.m., but Lopez did not immediately notify school staff members. Around 12:40 p.m., Lopez notified school administrative personnel that the student walked away only after a relative called about picking him up.

The Montgomery County Police Department’s 1st District officers and Rockville City Police officers arrived at the school at 12:50 p.m.

A Montgomery County Public Schools bus driver observed the missing student walking northbound on Ridge Road at Sweepstakes Drive in Damascus around 1:51 p.m. and returned him to his home.

Then around 3 p.m., police said officers returned to the school about another missing student – a non-verbal 16-year-old boy with autism and an IDD. A review of surveillance video showed the student exit the front door of the school around 2:53 p.m.

In a statement, police said Lopez “lost sight of the student and did not immediately follow established protocol to report the student as missing to administrative staff.”

Family members of that student later notified police that the student was at home in the Glenmont area. Officers determined that the student had walked six miles in inclement weather.

An arrest warrant charging Lopez with two counts of neglect of a minor was obtained Tuesday.

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