ROCKVILLE, Md. - Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich says he doesn't think having a school resource officer at Magruder High School in January when a teen was shot inside a bathroom would have made a difference.
"I'm not supposed to comment on this because it's in court – but I don't think it would have mattered," Elrich told FOX 5's Holly Morris Friday.
The shooting happened on January 21 when then 17-year-old Steven Alston Jr. allegedly shot another student in the school's bathroom during a fight.
A lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of the teen shot accuses Montgomery County leaders of negligence in removing school resource officers during a time of "significantly increased violence."
The student who was shot, DeAndre Thomas, was 15-years-old at the time. Thomas barely survived, according to the lawsuit. He dealt with nine surgeries, prolonged intubation, Sepsis and kidney failure. Attorneys said he was not discharged until nearly two months later.
His mother, Karen Thomas, said that in the past 10 months since the incident changed her son's life, no one from MCPS' central office had reached out to check on her son or offer support.
When asked if he thinks the school resource officer program needs to return to schools in Montgomery County, Elrich said it has. "It is back in some way, shape or form. They are in the building. They're not out in the halls," he said. "We wanted to minimize the contact. We wanted them not used for school discipline - which is what got this program in trouble in the first place - massive misuse of the program for using discipline rather than what they were there for. But they're there now."
"But the problem - the officers, even when they're in school, had multiple schools they're responsible for," Elrich added. "This officer happened to be at one of the other schools when the incident happened."
Alston Jr. pleaded guilty to an attempted first-degree murder charge last month. Sentencing is planned for December 22. Police said Alston Jr. purchased parts online to build the 9mm ghost gun used in the shooting.