6 Students Detained In Probe of Gunshot

By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 10, 2008

A gunshot in a boys' restroom yesterday morning at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington set off an investigation that yielded three guns and several other weapons, stowed in a student's locker, officials said.

Police said students took the guns to school in hopes of selling them. One of the guns went off accidentally as students were examining it in a second-floor restroom, they said.

Five male students and one female, ages 14 to 17, were taken into custody after the incident, and other students were held in their classes for two hours after the customary 2:10 p.m. dismissal. School officials said it was the first instance they could recall of a loaded weapon finding its way onto a Montgomery County campus. There are no metal detectors at the county's high schools.

"The big news here is there was not an intent to harm a student," said Lucille Baur, a police spokeswoman. "Students brought the guns in with the purpose of selling the guns, and in the process, a gun accidentally discharged. It was not pointed at anyone, and no one was injured by it."

Police said in a news release that the incident was probably related to friction at the school that began last week. Students said there was a serious fight outside the school Friday, possibly involving gangs. Police posted extra officers at the school this week.

The students involved in yesterday's incident remained in custody late in the day and had not been charged, Baur said. She said the oldest students would be charged as adults. One of the three guns recovered was stolen.

"It's still under investigation as to what use they might have made of the guns," Baur said.

The investigation began after a student told school administrators about a loud noise coming from the restroom between 11:30 a.m. and noon. Police found a bullet hole in the restroom wall. A security camera mounted outside the room led them to student witnesses.

The school was placed on lockdown during the seventh and final period, which began at 1:20 p.m. Students were held in their classes until after 4 p.m., when the firearms had been recovered and the suspects removed from campus.

Several students said boredom, rather than fear, was the prevailing mood.

"I just really needed to go to the bathroom," said senior Laura Smith, 18, who emerged from campus with a throng of students after the delayed dismissal. "People really weren't taking it too seriously."

Einstein High reported 11 weapon incidents during the 2006-07 academic year, the most of any high school in the county, according to a state report on suspensions and expulsions.

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