The 18-year-old Germantown teen who was arrested for bringing a loaded handgun to Clarksburg High School in February is expected to plead guilty as part of plea agreement, which will be finalized later this month.
Alwin Chen was arrested on February 15 at Clarksburg High School with a loaded Glock-like handgun. The incident came one day after the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Chen, who has been held without bond, since his arrest, entered the plea agreement on April 5, according to court documents. The Washington Post, first reported the plea agreement, saying that in exchange for the guilty plea the two other charges against Chen would be dropped.
Ramon Korionoff, with the State’s Attorney’s Office, confirmed the plea agreement but pointed out that it will not be official until a judge approves the deal. The matter is scheduled to be before Circuit Court Judge John Maloney on Tuesday, April 24.
The guilty plea means that Chen can be sentenced to between 90 days and three years in prison.
According to court documents, the weapon Chen brought to school was similar to a Glock 19 semiautomatic, but it was not a branded Glock 19 handgun. It was what is known in the firearms world as a “Lower 80” or a “Ghost Guns,” which can be purchased as parts online and then assembled later at home. As a result, the guns do not have serial numbers and are not traceable.
The brand which was visible on in the photo released MCPD was a P80, which is Polymer80, a kit which can be ordered over the Internet. The kit comes with the bottom portion of the gun and a jig to help complete the weapon. A barrel, and slide and trigger mechanisms are be acquired separately.
While it is perfectly legal in the United States and Maryland to build your own weapon, it is illegal for purchase by a person under the age of 21.
A quick online search found many companies offering kits that promise firearm parts that are already 80 percent complete. With a bit of work in the garage or on the workbench, some final assembly, and a fully functioning, fully legal pistol, assault rifle or shotgun can be created.
However, unlike most arms sellers, these kit companies don't have to do background checks. They don't have to find out whether their customers are mentally ill or have histories of domestic violence or criminal records.
There are also many videos online which offer tips to create the weapons.
At Chen’s Bond Hearing, prosecutors told the court that a search of Chen’s home on Gunners Drive in Germantown turned up more firearms including an AR-15 type rifle, ammunition, grenades, a ballistic vest and list of grievances. Prosecutors later backed off, acknowledging that there was no list of grievances found. School officials later said documents recovered from Chen contained no threats or plans to harm anyone at the school.
According to police, just prior to 2:00 pm on Thursday, Feb. 15, Officer Troy Melott, the School Resource Officer assigned to and working at Clarksburg High School, received information that Chen had brought a weapon to school. Melott and a school security employee entered the classroom and informed Chen that he needed to speak to Chen. The SRO and the employee walked Chen to a school office.
Once inside the school office, Officer Melott asked Chen if he had a weapon on his person, to which Chen replied that he had a handgun in his book bag and a knife in his front, shirt pocket. At approximately 2:20 pm, the SRO recovered a loaded, 9mm handgun from Chen’s book bag and placed Chen under arrest. The SRO also retrieved the knife from Chen’s pocket.
“The defendant repeatedly stated that the reason he regularly brought the gun to school was to protect himself and other students in case there was a school shooting,” Assistant State’s Attorney Frank Lazzaro wrote in a court document in February.
Chen’s attorney, David Felsen, told The Washington Post that Chen’s intention in bringing the gun to school was not to be violent, but rather vigilant. “We have always maintained that Alwin was acting to protect himself and others.”
Top: Alwin Chen, 18, of Germantown is expected to plead guilty to bringing a loaded firearm to school. Photo courtesy MCPD.
Next: A side-by-side photos showing the weapon which Chen brought to Clarksburg High School next to a photo of a P80 “ghost gun,” which is a kit which can be ordered online.
Next: A zoomed photo of the P80 logo on the photo that MCPD released as the gun which Chen brought to Clarksburg High School. Photo courtesy MCPD.
Next: An image of what is included when a ghost gun kit is ordered.
Next: Clarksburg High School Resource Officer Troy Melott. Photo by Germantown Pulse.