Derwood, MD – A 17-year-old alleged gunman accused of using a “ghost gun” to shoot a 15-year-old boy in a school bathroom in January will be tried as an adult, prosecutors have confirmed.
Steven Alston has been charged with attempted first-degree murder, possession of a firearm while a minor, first-degree assault, and possession of a dangerous weapon on school property in connection with the Jan. 21 shooting of DeAndre Thomas at Magruder High School, WJLA reported.
Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones said that multiple teens witnessed Alston shooting Thomas in the pelvic area that day, but that those witnesses posted information to social media platforms instead of calling 911 or alerting school personnel, WJLA reported.
Meanwhile, Thomas was left “fighting for his life,” Chief Jones said.
The wounded sophomore was ultimately discovered by a school security officer, prompting the call to law enforcement and emergency medical personnel.
Thomas, who suffered critical injuries, underwent multiple surgeries in the wake of the shooting and is continuing to recover.
Investigators said Alston bought parts online and built the “ghost gun” he used in the attack, according to WJLA.
He said he obtained the firearm because he was concerned he might be “jumped” at school, WJLA reported.
Alston allegedly told investigators that he and Thomas agreed to meet up in the school bathroom to fight that day, and claimed Thomas’ friends were already there when he walked in, according to court documents.
Alston said he was outnumbered and that he “did not want to fight, so he pulled the gun hoping to scare the victim and his friends away,” police said.
“Alston advised he did not point the handgun at the victim, but the victim attempted to grab the handgun away from him. Alston advised he accidentally pulled the trigger and shot the victim,” investigators wrote, according to WJLA.
But according to police, the true series of events unfolded much differently.
They said Alston pulled the gun out of his waistband and pointed the weapon at Thomas’ head.
When Thomas tried to knock his arm away, the two began fighting and Alston allegedly fired the weapon, shooting the 15-year-old in his pelvis, according to court documents.
Alston fled the scene and went to class afterwards, leaving Thomas bleeding out on the bathroom floor, WJLA reported.
Officers with the Montgomery County Police Tactical Team apprehended the shooter after they found him allegedly trying to blend in with other students in a classroom.
“[Officers] observed the frame of a handgun lying on the floor by Alston’s feet. [Officers] located a magazine loaded with 9mm rounds in Alston’s sock,” investigators wrote, according to court documents. “After all the students were removed from the classroom, officers located a spent shell casing and an upper portion of the handgun to include the slide, barrel, and spring.”
Thomas testified during a recent court hearing that he did assault Alston just days before the shooting, according to WUSA.
Alston’s attorney, David Felsen, said his client has never been in any trouble.
“It was absolutely clear from the evidence presented that he was the victim of several assaults,” Felsen told WUSA. “Some people might call it bullying. The victim, in this case, admitted he had beaten my client several times.”
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge David Boynton ruled on Thursday that Alston, who will turn 18 on Aug. 7, will be tried as an adult, WJLA reported.
Boynton noted that the maximum sentence that could have been imposed through juvenile court would have been six to nine months, which he believed was insufficient punishment for the “very adult-like behavior” Alston displayed at the time of the shooting, WUSA reported.
Alston faces more than 115 years in prison if he is convicted on all counts against him.