Clarksburg Principal: Description of Arrested Student’s ‘List of Grievances’ Inaccurate

Principal’s letter says claim made in court was mischaracterized


Published:

Alwin Chen

Via Montgomery County police

In a letter to parents, the principal of Clarksburg High School challenged claims made Tuesday by Montgomery County prosecutors that the student who allegedly brought a gun to the school last week also had a list of grievances against fellow students.

Alwin Chen, an 18-year-old student, is facing charges for possession of a firearm on school property and other firearm charges. He was arrested at school on Feb. 15 after school security and a police officer assigned to the school found a loaded handgun and a knife in his possession.

During a bail review in the Montgomery County District Court on Tuesday, prosecutors and a police officer detailed what was found in a Feb. 15 search of Chen’s home, including an AR-15 style rifle, other guns and inert grenades. They also said Chen had a “list of grievances.” Judge John C. Moffett ordered Chen to be held without bail.

“The list of grievances exacerbates the situation,” Moffett said when announcing his decision.

Principal Edward Owusu wrote Wednesday night that school officials learned of “additional weapons and a list of grievances that may have included names” through media reports.

“We have reached out to MCPD and they have shared that this information is inaccurate,” he wrote.

In court on Tuesday, assistant state’s attorney Frank Lazzaro said Chen had “a list of grievances police found.” During a press conference after the bail review, State’s Attorney John McCarthy also referred to both the weapons and the list of grievances.

“When questioned by police later… [Chen] indicated he had some difficulty with other students at school,” he said outside the courthouse. “Police found he had written down a list of grievances and reasons he had brought the gun to school with him.”

Chen was an honor roll student and an athlete. His arrest came a day after a former student shot and killed at least 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Montgomery County police have responded to a number of threats to local schools in the week since.

In a press release issued at 6 p.m. Thursday, county police wrote that detectives had “reviewed the contents of Chen’s journal. There is no wording regarding any threat nor any expression of wanting to cause harm to anyone at the school in this journal.”

When asked Wednesday about the apparent discrepancy between the release and what prosecutors said in court, Capt. Paul Starks, a police spokesman, said, “It is our practice not to speak about cases after bond review. It’s in the hands of the State’s Attorney’s Office.”

Ramón Korionoff, a spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s Office, said he could not comment further on an ongoing investigation.

“We indicated grievances,” he wrote in an email. “Different people may have [had] different interpretations but overall we are not in discord with what the police have stated.”

David Felsen, Chen’s attorney, said in court Tuesday that the allegation of a list of grievances was mischaracterized. He said Wednesday that he believed the Clarksburg High principal’s statement affirmed that position.

“We don’t believe there is a list of grievances,” he said. “The information that we have that we developed even more so today demonstrates that there is no list of grievances.”

He said the fact that the police press release did not mention a list of grievances was “pretty telling.”

In court, Officer Michael Chindblom of the county police department's crisis intervention team listed the weapons found at Chen’s house. He said the weapons included an AR-15 style rifle, several inert grades, revolvers, an attack vest and landmine detonators. The police press release listed the weapons as two rifles, a shotgun, two handguns, ammunition, “inert (replica) grenades,” a ballistic vest and a “replica electrical firing device (referred to as a clacker).”

The weapons were not found in Chen’s room. Felsen said they were legally obtained and belonged to another member of the Gunners Drive home.

County police wrote that no explosives were found in the home. Detectives are investigating who owned the guns and Chen’s motive for bringing the handgun to school.

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