By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Montgomery County police last night charged the Bethesda teen at the center of a bombmaking probe with attempted carjacking, saying he knocked a 78-year-old man to the ground outside White Flint Mall last week and tried to steal his Chevrolet Geo Prizm.
Also yesterday, the suspect's attorney spoke publicly for the first time, saying there has been a rush to judgment against Collin McKenzie-Gude, 18.
Authorities say McKenzie-Gude kept assault rifles and bombmaking chemicals in his bedroom and had a list of home addresses for teachers at the school from which he recently graduated, St. John's College High in the District. McKenzie-Gude's attorney said the list was given to him by another student.
"It was an innocent list. It had nothing to do with any animosity he held toward St. John's," said the attorney, Steven Kupferberg.
He said that McKenzie-Gude held no animosity toward faculty members and that he had "none, zero" intention of hurting anyone. Kupferberg described publicity about the case, which also involves charges against McKenzie-Gude's father, as "a tragedy of cataclysmic dimensions."
Authorities have not said what they believe McKenzie-Gude's ultimate intentions were or why he kept the guns, chemicals and list.
"Right now, we don't know his intentions, but we are continuing to investigate that," said Battalion Chief Kenneth I. Korenblatt of the county's bomb squad.
McKenzie-Gude remains in the Montgomery County jail on a $1 million bond and faces a possible court hearing today to determine whether there should be changes to his bond on charges of manufacture and possession of a destructive device.
Also charged in the case is his father, Joe Gude, who authorities say bought weapons for his son, and a 17-year-old Gaithersburg youth who is not being named because he was charged as a minor. His attorney, Rene Sandler, said yesterday her client "had no intention of harming anyone" and had no connection to the carjacking.
In the latest twist, Montgomery police charged McKenzie-Gude yesterday with attempted carjacking and second-degree assault.
Police said that at 11:46 a.m. July 29, McKenzie-Gude approached a 78-year-old man in the second-level garage near Bloomingdale's at White Flint and demanded the man's keys as he tried to lock his car. When the man refused, McKenzie-Gude struck him with his elbow, knocked him to the ground and grabbed the keys, police said.
The teen tried to start the car but couldn't, and fled, police said. Investigators linked McKenzie-Gude to the incident from evidence at the scene, and from descriptions of the assailant. The man was treated at the scene for relatively minor injuries.
A source with knowledge of the charges, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the case is open, said the victim purposely gave the assailant a different set of keys so he couldn't start the car, and the assailant left behind his cellphone.
Investigators began their probe of McKenzie-Gude in July, when a relative of the 17-year-old told police that McKenzie-Gude had explosives in his possession.
About 12:30 p.m. July 29, they searched the Bethesda home where McKenzie-Gude lives with his parents and found assault rifles and explosive chemicals in the teen's bedroom. Kupferberg said yesterday that the weapons were unloaded and stored in a gun safe. The ammunition also was locked away, the attorney said.
The attempted carjacking occurred about an hour before the search began.
Authorities also say McKenzie-Gude, along with the 17-year-old, tested pipe bombs in a field in Gaithersburg. Last week, they said the tests took place in July 2007. At a bond hearing yesterday, Kupferberg said that meant McKenzie-Gude was a juvenile at the time and should have been charged as such. But a prosecutor countered that the tests took place in November, when McKenzie-Gude was old enough to be charged as an adult.
The likely result, according to yesterday's court hearing: McKenzie-Gude will be recharged with the date changed from July to November.