Magruder Shooting Urges Further Discussion on Violence Prevention in MCPS

Last Friday, Magruder High School went into a four hour lockdown in response to an active shooter threat. One student was shot, and the suspect fell into police custody shortly after forces arrived. The teen now is being held without bond.

According to WTOP, Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones announced in a press conference that the shooting happened in a school bathroom. The suspect, 17, and the victim, 15, both males, had arranged to meet to address an ongoing conflict. A ghost gun was used, meaning the weapon did not have a traceable serial number.

In what is undoubtedly considered a tragedy, this event only piles onto the growing, heaving discussion of what to do about the drastic spike in MCPS violence this year.

In a statement this past Monday night, MCPS addressed the “shocked” community, addressing the plethora of concerns had by students and parents. They reassured readers that “even when bad things happen, many people are working to keep [students] safe.”

While not directly attributing the event to any specific cause, MCPS did mention that the general increase in violence over this year has mimicked trends from across the US since the pandemic began. You can check out my other piece evaluating this connection here.

Magruder, and every high school across the county, will be subjected to an increased police presence within their schools and communities. However, many of Montgomery County’s most prominent voices, such as Councilmember Will Jawando, have held the belief that there isn’t any connection between having officers in buildings and having a decrease in violence, nor vice versa.

Although SROs do provide a level of protection that other school security can’t, such as having loaded weapons, community concerns of their presence stem from hard data: Montgomery County’s disturbingly high student arrest rate as well as SROs’ propensity for disproportionately targeting students of color. There is the ongoing discussion of whether or not these negative effects offset having the ability to fight fire with fire.

On the other hand, MCPS will be making an effort to prevent these violent outbursts before they occur. In their community address, they made a strong plea to students: “If they know something or see something, they should say something to a trusted adult.” According to Chief Jones, although the situation was eventually put under control, there were other students in the bathroom at the time of the incident who did not let any adult or emergency services know. 

MCPS also made sure to highlight that counseling services, and any trusted adult, will be available for outlet if students have any growing concerns. Other resources on how to handle traumatic events were also linked for students to reference.

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