PERRY HALL, Md. >> A 15-year-old sophomore at a suburban Baltimore high school who made references to murder-suicide on Facebook has been charged as an adult in the shooting of a classmate on the first day of school, authorities said today.
Robert Wayne Gladden Jr. was being held without bail on charges of attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault, Baltimore County police said. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Sept. 7. The state’s attorney’s office did not know if he had a lawyer.
Gladden’s last status update on his Facebook page, posted the morning of the shooting, read: “First day of school, last day of my life. … f— the world.”
His father told The Associated Press that his son had been bullied. Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson said at a news conference Tuesday that he was aware of the reported bullying, but he said Gladden has not indicated in conversations with detectives that bullying was a motive for the shooting. He did not disclose other possible motives.
Gladden continues to cooperate with investigators and was undergoing a mental health evaluation, Johnson said.
Gladden rode to school on the bus Monday morning with a bag containing a disassembled shotgun, 21 rounds of ammunition and a bottle of vodka, Johnson said.
When he arrived at school, Gladden went to his first two classes, Johnson said. On the way to the cafeteria, he stashed the bag with the shotgun in a restroom, the chief said. A short time later, he returned to the restroom and assembled the gun, which he then hid beneath his clothes, Johnson said.
Upon entering the cafeteria, he pulled out the gun and fired a shot toward a lunch table, according to charging documents. A 17-year-old classmate, Daniel Borowy, was struck in the back.
Teachers and school staff then rushed toward the teen, and in the ensuing struggle, he fired another shot that hit the ceiling, investigators said in the documents. The staffers were able to get the gun away from him and he was arrested by a school resource officer.
Witnesses credited guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer with getting the gun away from Gladden.
Gladden sipped from the vodka bottle before the shooting but did not drink enough to become intoxicated, Johnson said.
The teen obtained the shotgun from his father’s house, Johnson said. The weapon was manufactured before 1968 and was of legal length, and police were trying to determine whether it was properly registered, he said.
On his Facebook page, Gladden referred to mass murderer Charles Manson and gave himself the nickname “SuicidalSmile.” The page, identified by classmates as belonging to the suspected shooter, was just launched in July, and the three photos of Gladden all show his face hidden behind long, dark hair. He describes himself as a “metalhead” and a fan of musicians Marilyn Manson and Slipknot.
The suspect’s father, Robert W. Gladden, told the AP Monday evening that his son was the shooter and indicated his son had been bullied. He gave no further details.
A woman who was also at the home in Middle River and said she was related to the elder Gladden gave the following statement on the family’s behalf: “We are horrified. We did not see this coming and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and the victim’s family.”
Borowy remained in critical condition Tuesday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, a hospital spokeswoman said. His family issued a statement asking well-wishers to keep him in their thoughts and prayers and asking for privacy.
Police also executed a search warrant at the Kingsville home of Gladden’s mother and stepfather and arrested the stepfather — Andrew Piper, 43 — on illegal gun and drug possession charges, police said. The charges against Piper had nothing to do with the school shooting, Johnson said, but he noted that Gladden lived part-time at that address.
Classes resumed Tuesday at the school amid a low-key police presence. About 150 students turned out for a prayer vigil organized by local churches on the school grounds. Some students wore T-shirts and bracelets reading “Pray for Daniel” and “Team Wasmer” in reference to the victim and the guidance counselor.
Shane Boyer, 44, who was dropping off his 13-year-old daughter Corinne, said the vigil helped calm students still dealing with the shooting. Boyer said he knew immediately that his daughter was safe after the shooting because he received text messages from her. One read, “Someone just shot a gun in lunch,” followed by another that said, “I ran out I am do (sic) scared there’s helicopters + cops + we are all outside.”
Nuckols reported from Washington.