Perry Hall High School shooting suspect Robert Wayne Gladden Jr. knew his stepfather owned a cache of powerful guns but was unable to gain access to them because they were locked in a safe, Baltimore County police said Friday.
"This shooting, as devastating as it was, could have been a lot worse," Police Chief James Johnson wrote in a blog entry posted on a county news website Friday.
Police have obtained evidence that Gladden was "well aware of the guns" but knew he couldn't get to them, according to the blog. Instead, he took a double-barreled Western Field shotgun "because it was the only weapon he could get," Johnson wrote.
Gladden, 15, is accused of shooting 17-year-old special-education student Daniel Borowy in the school cafeteria Monday. Borowy was critically injured and remains at Maryland Shock Trauma Center but is expected to survive.
The safe owned by Gladden's stepfather, Andrew Eric Piper, contained eight guns, including shotguns, handguns and rifles, some of which are easier to use and hold more ammunition than the Western Field shotgun, Johnson wrote. Piper was arrested after police found the guns because he had been previously convicted of grand theft, a felony that prohibits him from possessing firearms. Piper has not been charged with a crime related to the shooting.
Johnson encouraged gun owners to see it as a lesson on the importance of securing firearms.
"Regardless of our opinions about guns and gun control, we ought to be able to agree on this: The consequences of not securing firearms in the home can be disastrous," Johnson wrote.
Borowy, meanwhile, underwent a second surgery and may require more, according to the family's pastor, Dominic Correlli of the Perry Hall Family Worship Center.
Correlli said the second surgery Friday afternoon appeared successful, though members of the family were beginning to show signs of the strain they are under. He said he said he could see the family "running out of steam."
"He's got a good ways to go," Correlli said. "The doctor seemed to be encouraged, but they're still not 100 percent sure that he's not going to need another operation."
He asked that people continue to pray for the Borowy family.
"The family, obviously, they're worn out," Correlli said. "I've been there I think every day, and I can continually just see them running out of steam here. They're really just focused on Danny. You know, a mom is a mom. She's not leaving his side."
Correlli said Borowy is "pretty out of it" and not communicating. Borowy's friends and fellow students have described him as a cheerful person who loves pop singer Lady Gaga. Classmates said Borowy joked that he had a suitcase packed to go to California and would ask to marry her if the opportunity arose.
A social media campaign launched to ask Lady Gaga to visit Borowy drew attention from Ravens players and the bakers at Charm City cakes. A music executive with ties to Lady Gaga said this week the campaign has reached the singer's staff.