Student arrested after bringing loaded gun, knife to Clarksburg High School

Alwin Chen, L, Recovered Handgun, R. (Montgomery County Police Department)

Authorities said a student at Clarksburg High School brought a gun to school on Thursday.

Montgomery County Police identified 18-year-old Alwin Chen, of Germantown, as the student in question. He was arrested and charged with possession of a handgun, possession of a firearm by a person under 21 years old and possession of a firearm on school property.

“Very scary. To me, the fact that the child was bold enough to try that is a concern to be answered,” said Janet Sanchez, whose child attends Clarksburg High School.

Police say at around 2 p.m. a school resource officer was notified that Chen may have brought a weapon to school. School security and the SRO then went to Chen's classroom and accompanied the student to the office.

When they arrived at the office, the SRO reportedly asked if Chen had any weapons on him. Chen responded that he had a handgun in his bookbag and a knife in his front shirt pocket, according to authorities.

At 2:20 p.m., the resource officer found a loaded 9mm handgun in Chen's bookbag and also retrieved the knife from his pocket.

Chen was arrested and charged with possession of a handgun, possession of a firearm by a person under 21 years old and possession of a firearm on school property.

"This illegal and dangerous behavior will not be tolerated in our school community," Clarksburg High School principal Edward Owusu wrote in a letter that was sent home to parents. "Weapons of any type are not permitted on or near school property. Any student caught with a weapon will be referred to law enforcement and punished accordingly."

The school district said Chen did not make any threats, but late Thursday police said Chen's motive for bringing the weapons on school grounds remain under investigation.

ABC7 spoke to Montgomery County Public Schools’ Board of Education president Michael Durso about Chen’s arrest, which comes just one day after a massacre at a high school in south Florida.

“It’s unfortunately a sign of the times, and we seem to have more questions than answers right now,” said Durso, who is a former high school principal himself. “I think our parents are understandably unnerved when these things happen. I think people would like to hear guarantees for the safety of their children and staff. And I suspect the guarantee we can give them is that we will do our best to make sure something like this doesn’t occur and we are as vigilant as possible.

"Unfortunately, we have to stop short of promising it will never happen, because it’s just a very complex situation. It could happen anywhere, and it does happen anywhere.”

Both Durso and Clarksburg High School’s principal praised the school resource officer and other staff for their vigilance and quick actions in the case.

A Clarksburg High School town hall meeting took place Thursday night, though it was planned long before Chen’s arrest. Concerns over the incident quickly took center stage at the meeting.

“What can we as students do to protect ourselves?” one student said.

School board members and Montgomery County Police were at the meeting, to answer questions from the crowd. Officers reminded students and parents that when it comes to concerning behavior at school: if you see something, say something.

Investigators said they continue to collect evidence in the case, including conducting a search of Chen’s residence and researching and confirming the ownership and purchasing history of the handgun.

On Friday, ABC7 News obtained court documents in regard to this incident.

In the documents, ABC7's Kevin Lewis reports that Chen told police he "felt anxious from social interactions between himself and students" at Clarksburg High School.

Chen is now being evaluated for signs of mental illness.

On Tuesday, February 20, Chen is scheduled to have a bond review at 1 p.m., according to Lewis. Chen will remain in custody at least until that time.

Lewis reports Chen turned 18 in January and has been charged as an adult. He faces up to 11 years in prison.

Sources told ABC7 that Chen had already been accepted into two colleges.

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