Report: Richard Montgomery High Student Charged with Armed Robbery of Classmate Near Campus

MCPS defends against criticism that it should have publicized the February crime report


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File photo/Andrew Schotz

A Richard Montgomery High School student has been charged with the February armed robbery of a classmate on a Rockville bike path, according to a WJLA Channel 7 report.

The Thursday news report states the reported crime is coming to light months later because Montgomery County Public Schools did not tell parents about it, provoking pushback from the school system.

In a Friday morning message to the school’s staff, Richard Montgomery Principal Damon Monteleone characterized the WJLA report as an “inflammatory online story.” He noted that the reported attack happened off-campus at about 7 p.m. and wrote that the alleged victim and the accused attacker, Malachi Lansdowne, no longer attend Richard Montgomery since the incident.

An MCPS spokeswoman said the school system does not generally send out letters to the community about crimes that take place off-campus. The school system did report the incident to police on the evening it happened, according to an MCPS tweet on Thursday.    

The WJLA report cites court documents that described the alleged attack: The victim told police he was sitting on a path, using his cell phone the evening of Feb. 21 when three masked robbers walked up to him, two of them taking out what appeared to be handguns. They demanded the teen’s iPhone 7 cell phone, Fendi belt and Air Jordan 12 shoes. One of the robbers struck the victim in the head several times, placed a knee onto the victim’s neck and threatened to “jump him at school” the next day if he reported the robbery to authorities. The assailant told the teen to reset his $800 phone, so it could be used by others, and stole it, the $400 belt and the $200 shoes, the victim told police.

He reportedly told detectives the voice of one assailant sounded like that of a classmate named Malachi. He was shown a photo of Lansdowne and identified the teen as the robber who’d punched him, according to the court documents.   

The victim told detectives he’d been friends with Lansdowne until last year, when they stopped talking.

Lansdowne, 16, of Rockville was arrested Feb. 23 and has been charged as an adult with armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, according to court documents. He is being held without bond as he awaits an August trial, online court records show.

Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery County police spokesman, said detectives believe the victim knew Lansdowne and a personal disagreement may have led to the robbery. The other two robbers have not been identified.

The robbery occurred “very near” campus on a pedestrian foot path that runs between Mount Vernon Place and Fleet Street, Starks said. The teen was robbed about halfway between the two streets.

Police discovered the weapon Lansdowne allegedly used in the crime was a pellet gun, he said.

Starks said the robbery was not included in the police department’s weekly crime summary because of the personal connection the victim had to at least one robber. He said police also do not publicize domestic violence or acquaintance rapes.

“If it’s not random, there’s not a threat to public safety, it’s not a trend,” Starks said. “Our weekly crime summaries are provided to serve as an overview of incidents reported in Montgomery County. These summaries do not reflect every reported incident in the county.”

The WJLA report includes comments from a Richard Montgomery freshman who said school officials should’ve informed students of the incident.

Monteleone offered to meet with staff Friday afternoon to answer any further questions.

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