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Police: Student robs, beats classmate at gunpoint beside Richard Montgomery HS campus

Malachi Lansdowne

ROCKVILLE, Md. (ABC7) — A teenager sitting along a walking path immediately adjacent to Richard Montgomery High School was beaten and robbed at gunpoint by a fellow classmate, Montgomery County Police said.

The violent incident, which occurred Feb. 21, is only now coming to light — nearly three months later — as school leaders did not issue a public alert. ABC7 News learned of the pending criminal matter through law enforcement sources.

According to criminal charging documents, Malachi Lansdowne, a 16-year-old RMHS junior, and two unknown accomplices, approached a male student who was using his iPhone on the path around 7 p.m. All three suspects were wearing ski masks, including two who were in possession of handguns.

The mostly unlit-wooded path weaves its way along RMHS’s western property line, connecting Fleet Street and Mt. Vernon Place.

Lansdowne allegedly "jumped" on the victim, drove his knee into the victim's neck and punched the victim in the face around five times. Lansdowne then grabbed hold of his handgun, racked the slide and pointed it at the victim, police add. The trio demanded the victim's $800 iPhone 7, $200 Nike Air Jordan sneakers and $400 Fendi belt.

The suspects ordered the victim reset his smartphone to its factory settings. Before fleeing with the $1,400 in valuables, the suspects threatened to "jump [the victim] at school the next day" if he reported the crime to authorities.

The victim ignored that verbal warning, sharing the ordeal with both Richard Montgomery High School security members and Montgomery County Police.

The victim told officers that he recognized one suspect's voice as that of a classmate Malachi Lansdowne. He further stated the suspect was dressed in the same clothing as Lansdowne had worn to school earlier that same day: a black hooded sweatshirt, black skinny jeans and gray Nike Jordan shoes.

ABC7 asked Montgomery County Public Schools why it decided not to alert the RMHS community about the gun-toting student-on-student crime. And a MCPS spokesman said it did not deem it to be necessary to publicize as the incident occurred off school property and after normal school hours.

"Even though it was after school, and even though it wasn't technically on school property, it was still right next to my school," Richard Montgomery High School freshman Xochi Atienza stated, further noting the incident occurred exactly one week after the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. "That's definitely something I would want to know about."

Police charged Lansdowne as an adult. A judge later opted to deny bond. The 16-year-old is awaiting trial at the Alfred D. Noyes Children's Center in Rockville on charges of armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. He faces more than 20 years in prison.

Lansdowne's father told ABC7 his son is a "soft-spoken, homebody" who, prior to his arrest, worked more than 20 hours a week at Dairy Queen, mowed his grandmother's lawn and babysat his five-year-old brother.

"He loves video games, shopping, fashion, buying all of the latest Jordans, having his hair cut," Lansdowne's father said. "He wrote music, rap. He actually had some pretty nice tracks, talking about family, politics, all of that stuff, ya know, how we're getting shot out here like there's no tomorrow."

Lansdowne's father acknowledges he does not have proof to counter what investigators have alleged but is fearful the pending criminal case will sacrifice his son's pursuit of a high school diploma.

"They got him locked up in there like a doggone caged animal," he said. "He's not a menace to society."

Lansdowne is scheduled for a three-day trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court in August. He is being represented by the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, which has a longstanding policy of not speaking with the news media.

Police have not been able to identify the other two suspects involved in the February armed robbery.


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