Robert W. Gladden Jr. "expected to be killed" on the day he allegedly shot a fellow student at Perry Hall High School, according to his lawyers, who said the teen remains on suicide watch in jail.
The comments came on the day of the 15-year-old Gladden's first court appearance since the incident; his morning bail hearing was postponed after his attorneys requested more time to secure and examine recent mental health evaluations.
Gladden did not speak in court, but kept his head down, letting his long dark hair hang in his face. He wore what appeared to be his own clothes, a dark baggy T-shirt and long pants.
Attorney Clarke F. Ahlers said later that, having spoken with the defendant several times, he believes the boy is remorseful, but it's not clear what Gladden's motivation was when he brought a gun to school. He said Gladden was acting in a state of anxiety and the teen did not clearly remember what happened that day.
Ahlers said he believed Gladden was aware that his actions could result in his own death, possibly by law enforcement responding to the attack.
"I think he expected to be killed," Ahlers said. He added that Gladden had no prior contact with law enforcement.
The day of the shooting, Gladden's Facebook page had made reference to his death. A post on the page at 6:27 a.m. read, "First day of school, last day of my life."
Fears of school violence have escalated since the Perry Hall incident Aug. 27, the first day of classes. This week, a student allegedly threatened a teacher and other students at Stemmers Run Middle School in Essex. No one was injured; the student was charged as a juvenile.
And on Thursday, Baltimore County schools dealt with a bomb scare on one campus and rumored threats on two others, as officials worked to quash misinformation and assure parents their children are safe.
The schools were not placed on lockdown and no students were in danger, officials said.
"It appears at this point that a flurry of rumors is circulating on social media," said Charles Herndon, a county schools spokesman. "People are understandably on edge because of recent events, and these threats are really playing on people's nerves. We have investigated each incident quickly and thoroughly, and there is no truth to any of them."
Rumors traced to Facebook Thursday involved reports of a gun at Dundalk and Kenwood high schools. Police also followed up on a bomb threat left on a voice message at Lansdowne Middle School, Herndon said.
"Everybody is on edge," said Abby Beytin, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County. As a teacher, "one of the things you don't expect is that you might actually have to put your life on the line."
Beytin said many children may not understand the gravity of making threats.
"The nature of kids is to want to be accepted by peer groups, and so they don't have the maturity to understand the importance of what's going on," she said. "You threaten somebody, you're not back in school tomorrow. … They don't understand the permanence."
Since the Perry Hall shooting, school officials have announced reforms in security, including increased police presence, metal-detecting wands and a new administrative security officer.
Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance said Thursday that all principals will lead schools in observance of a "Day of Awareness" on Friday, where students will be able to report their concerns on a tip line and learn about the resources that are available to help them through issues they, or their classmates, may be facing.
Gladden, a Kingsville resident, has been charged as an adult on 29 counts, including attempted first-degree murder. He is accused of bringing his father's disassembled shotgun to school and opening fire in the school cafeteria, injuring 17-year-old Daniel Borowy.
Borowy, who was struck in the lower back, was recently released from the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
Ahlers said after the hearing that the teen "has expressed deep sorrow" for Borowy, adding that Gladden has asked about Borowy's well-being and expressed interest in meeting him some day.