A North Carroll Middle School eighth-grader is being charged as a juvenile after he voluntarily surrendered a handgun he brought to the Hampstead school Wednesday, Oct. 26, to a school staff member he went to for help.
Maryland State Police identified the student is a 15-year-old male. He is not being identified because he is being charged as a juvenile.
According to police accounts, shortly before 11 a.m. Wednesday, the student was in the school lunchroom for his lunch period when he approached an assistant principal in the room and said he was troubled with thoughts of harming himself. Police said the assistant principal contacted the guidance counselor, who met with the student privately.
During the meeting with the counselor, the student handed her a bag in which he carried his lunch. Inside, the teacher found a semi-automatic pistol, police said.
The guidance counselor immediately called the school principal, who contacted a Maryland state trooper who was teaching DARE in a nearby classroom.
The trooper responded and took the weapon into custody. Troopers identified the pistol as a .40 caliber semi-automatic. There were rounds in the gun's magazine, but there was not a round in the chamber of the gun, police said.
Police said there is no indication that the student had any desire to harm anyone else at the school. There is no indication anyone else was assisting him or that anyone else knew of any intent.
"Our reaction is that (school staff) handled it very well," said Greg Shipley, spokesman for Maryland State Police. "This young man said he needed help, and they immediately were attentive to his request.
"The assistant principal immediately put him in contact with guidance counselor. … The guidance counselor was able to, before she knew the significance of it, was able connect with him in a way that he gives her his lunch bag. She followed the procedure and contacted the principal immediately," Shipley said.
"From school, he was … connected with some people who talked with him, some counselors. That's obviously something that should concern all of us, that we ensure this young man gets the help he needs to deal with that brought him to this," he said.
"It's something that we believe the school officials handled very, very well today. It was very easy for us to come in do what we needed to get done," Shipley said.
Charges are pending, and police said they will be consulting with the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services and the Carroll County State's Attorney's regarding charges.
Police said the preliminary investigation indicates the student carried the weapon from his home to school in the lunch bag and stored the bag in his locker until his lunch period.
Troopers are continuing the investigation to determine who the gun belongs to and how the student was able to obtain it.
Troopers from the State Police Criminal Investigation Section at the Westminster Barrack responded and are working in cooperation with the Carroll County Public Schools coordinator of school security and the North Carroll Middle School administration.