ROCKVILLE, Md. - A Clarksburg High School student who pleaded guilty to bringing a loaded gun to school has been sentenced to four months in prison.
Alwin Chen was arrested on Feb. 15 after officials say a school resource officer recovered a 9 mm handgun from his backpack and a knife from his shirt pocket. The 18-year-old’s arrest came one day after the deadliest U.S. school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
After his arrest, Chen told police he brought the gun to school to protect himself and others in case of a school shooting, according to court documents.
It was an emotional hearing Tuesday inside a Montgomery County courtroom that lasted for about an hour and a half for Chen. He was wearing a green jail jumpsuit and answered the judge's questions in a strong, clear voice saying, “Yes, your honor” to every single question.
Chen apologized to the court and said what he did was “stupid.” He also said, “I want to be productive in life. I don't want to be back here again.” He became emotional and grabbed a cup of water to drink as his mother addressed the court. She told the judge, “As a mother, my heart is breaking for him.”
Before being sentenced, Chen’s defense attorneys described him as a good and responsible boy and he made a stupid mistake.
When it came time for sentencing, Judge John Maloney said he was at peace after reading the psychological report prepared by a doctor that he knew. The judge then said to Chen directly, “What you did was pretty scary. There's no evidence of evil intent. Just misguided. You are an intelligent guy, but you knew you were breaking the law.”
The judge then said, “What you did concerns this court greatly and you seem to have a hero complex.”
After he asked for a recommendation on a minimum sentence, the judge appeared confused that the prosecutors in the case had none. They told the judge it was up to him.
“This is an opportunity where the judge has the prerogative to hand down the kind of sentence that balances the need for fairness to the defendant as well as keeping the community safe and allowing for rehabilitation,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office spokesperson Ramon Korionoff. “Obviously this was a young man that made a very poor decision, that broke the law and deserves to be punished. But there is also opportunity for healing in the community and moving forward in a very positive way should he make the right decisions from here on out.”
Chen has already served 69 days in jail. He was locked up back in mid-February and has not gotten out since then. The judge said Chen may get out by the end of May. The 18-year-old was also sentenced to five years of supervised probation and 300 hours of community service.
Following his arrest in February, authorities said they found a cache of weapons in a search of his home, including two rifles, a shotgun, a ballistic vest, inert grenades, two handguns and a replica electrical firing device and ammunition, court documents say.
Officials said Chen brought a gun to school on several occasions and would carry it in a holster while sometimes wearing body armor. Prosecutors painted Chen as a troubled person who wrote in the journal that he is worthless and ready to die, according to the court documents.